Highland News Leader

Up, up, and away… Hot air balloons to launch from Marine festival

Balloons launch at last year’s Hot Air Balloon & Sport Aviation Show in Marine. This will be the second year for the event, which is planned for Sept. 23-25.
Balloons launch at last year’s Hot Air Balloon & Sport Aviation Show in Marine. This will be the second year for the event, which is planned for Sept. 23-25. clibbra@bnd.com

The village of Marine got its name from the number of sea captains who settled the early community, but now the town is becoming known for sailing of another kind — into the wild blue yonder.

The community will host its second annual Hot Air Balloon & Sport Aviation Show Sept. 23-25 at the Marine Village Park, on Duncan Street near the center of town, with more events set at two nearby parks, the Lions Park and the Firemen’s Park.

The festival is a free, family-friendly, grass-roots event hosted and funded by the Marine Historical Society, area businesses, local organizations and individuals and features one of the oldest, most magnificent and magical inventions to ever take to the air.

“This year, we want to make the event better, not bigger, so we’ve added more food vendors, drone demonstrations, mini seminars throughout the day on interesting aviation topics related to the area, and shuttle service to the Lions and Firemen’s parks for the kite flying and the helicopter rides,” said Bill Weder, one of the event’s organizers.

The proceeds of the event will be used to benefit the community, including park improvements, a new Veterans Memorial and the grade school.

Balloon launches are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings. Balloon glows are also set for Friday and Saturday nights. The actual timings of the launches in only approximate. Balloons can only fly in calm winds, so the launches are planned for around sunrise and again about an hour before sunset, but it is all ultimately dependent on the weather. (The rain/wind date for the Saturday activities and presentations will be Sunday, Sept. 25.)

The event starts on Friday around 4 p.m., once all the exhibits are in place, but come early to find a parking space. During this event, the entire town becomes a parking lot. If the crops are out of the fields in time, with the land owners permission, there may be off-site parking with possible shuttle services. Residents of Marine are welcome to open their yards and driveways for parking and are welcome to charge a small parking fee, if they choose.

If you want to beat the crowd and avoid last year’s traffic jams, plan to come for the morning launches, where you can park close, relax and enjoy breakfast.

Learn about flight

You can satisfy your curiosity about things that fly and learn how aviation is being used by those from the Marine area at one of the mini-seminars to be held throughout the day on Saturday. Planned topics include:

▪ Hot Air Ballooning,

▪ Managing Air Force One,

▪ Nike Missile Site Reunion,

▪ All About Drones,

▪ Learning to Fly Airplanes and Gliders,

▪ Space Camp for Kids,

▪ The Ficker Family’s Mission in Guatemala, and

▪ How Volunteer Angel Flight Pilots Aid Those Needing to Travel Long Distances for Medical Treatments.

Exhibits planned throughout the festival include helicopters, gliders, R-C model airplanes and drones, powered parachutes, sky diving, home-built airplanes, hang gliding, gyro copters, the ARCH emergency helicopter, vintage bicycles, as well as small motorcycles that kids can relate to and learn how two-wheel vehicles were part of aviation’s beginnings.

One of the special exhibits will be dedicated to the Larry Mill’s Aviation Memorial, and plans are in the works to set up a private scholarship program to help a young person get started in an aviation or aerospace career. (Mills, a Marine native and a medical transport pilot, was killed in a plane crash in July in northern California.)

A chance to touch the clouds

Helicopter rides will be given from the Firemen’s Park on Saturday at a cost of $50 per person.

Children 18 and under can experience the gift of flight for their first time by signing up for a free airplane ride through the EAA’s Young Eagle Program. To date, more than 2 million rides have been given by airplane owners around the world. These rides will be available at later dates and take place at Shafer’s St. Jacob Airport, Greenville Airport, St. Louis Regional Airport in Bethalto or Downtown St. Louis Airport in Cahokia.

Activities for kids

There will be games, exhibits and educational forums. Also available will be helium balloons, paper airplane folding, balsa wood gliders and flying toys, Frisbees, kite flying, a special scavenger hunt, a UFO bounce house, T-shirts, face painting and raffles. Movies will be shown in the park for kids on Friday and Saturday evenings, and there will be crafts and food from area home businesses and organizations.


Entertainment will be provided Friday afternoon and evening by local artists. Elizabeth LaKamp will open the event and perform for the evening balloon launch. Then, the Paul Jarvis Band will entertain everyone during the glow, until 10 p.m.

On Saturday, starting about noon, Virgil Straeter’s Nice N Easy band will be playing through the afternoon, until balloon launch time when the Troy Community Band will perform a special tribute during lift-off. Before, during and after the Saturday-evening glow, entertainment will be by Marine’s own Red Haired Boys until 10 p.m.

On Sunday morning after the morning’s balloon launch, the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis will demonstrate eagle and falcon flights, as well as bring a variety of birds to view.

Police Department K-9 5K

The Marine Police Department will hold an early-morning 5K run to support the local K-9 police unit. The second annual race will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24. Run/walk begins and ends at tank in village park in the 300 block of N. Duncan in Marine. Registration is at 8 a.m., and the run/walk begins at 8:30. Registration is $25. Registered participants receive a T-shirt and participation ribbon at the event. Timing will be announced as participants cross the finish line. Pre-register and Pay online at https://runsignup.com/Race/IL/Marine/K95K.

Food and refreshments

Throughout the festival, there will be a variety of food and refreshments and support from local businesses and organizations.

New to this year’s event, the Lions Club will hold a continental breakfast fundraiser both Saturday and Sunday morning, during the early balloon flights.

Schedule of Events


▪ 4 to 10 p.m. Music, Food & Exhibits

▪ 5:30 p.m. Balloon Launch

▪ 8 p.m. Balloon Glow


▪ 7 a.m. Breakfast & Balloon Launch

▪ 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Exhibits, Kids Activities, Food & More

▪ 5:30 p.m. Balloon Launch

▪ 8 p.m. Balloon Glow


▪ 7 to 10 a.m. Breakfast, Balloons, Live Eagle & Falcons Flights

NOTE: All balloon launch times are approximate, pending wind and weather conditions. For more information, see the event’s Facebook page or visit www.boMarine.org.