Road race, craft beer tent also added to this weekend's festivities. Follow all the action on Twitter at #PFHOF17.

Progress: The first Balloon Classic was held in 1986, with a field of 25 balloons. Recently, the slate of balloons typically numbers more than 60 sport, commercial and special-shape balloons.

The merger of the Jackson-Belden and Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce has brought organizers of the event under one roof. The event was most recently a combined Jackson-Belden festival, featuring music and food vendors, in tandem with the Balloon Classic. This year, the event is simply called the Balloon Classic & Fireworks.

"It has worked out really well," said Chris Gumpp, director of community events and sponsorships for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.

Parking for $5 per car — after 3:30 p.m. both days — is available in the lots of Kent State University at Stark and Stark State College. The popular "Night Glow" of balloons is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. Friday. Fireworks are set for 10 p.m. Saturday, but is dependent upon the weather. (The Kent campus is smoke free.)

Change: The Up, Up & Away 5K race has been added this year. It will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday on the same 200-acre Kent State University at Stark campus in Jackson Township as the Balloon Classic, so there will be no need to close any roads.

Similar races tied to Hall of Fame festivals date back to 1986, when there were 2-mile and 5-mile races. The past two years, the race was in September and connected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon.

"It was a great opportunity to bring back our race and ... use an event we already have," Gumpp said. Also this year, a craft beer tasting tent will be placed on the track. Pre-sale tickets are $25 for one day or $40 for both days; tickets are $30 and $50 at the event. 

Challenge: Luring unique hot-air balloons.

Gumpp said a dragon-shaped balloon will be on hand this year. Another ongoing challenge is finding volunteers, because of summertime schedule demands for couples and families. And lastly, ensuring the needed event sponsors remains a challenge — though, she said, 95 percent of sponsors typically return the following year.

Opportunities: "Bringing back the race ... gives us a chance to showcase the campus there," Gumpp said. Participants can walk or run the course. All finishers will be presented a medal. The top three male and female finishers will receive a pair of Spirit Airlines travel vouchers.