DANSVILLE — It is that time of year again when people will be lining up to take a ride in the sky.
The NYS Festival of Balloons kicks-off with the Balloon Glow on Aug. 31 and the festival runs from Sept. 1 to Sept. 3 at the Dansville Airport.
Technically it all started in the late 1800s with the pioneers of smoke balloons known as The Flying Allens.
It was in 1874 when the Allen brothers first flew a smoke balloon in the Dansville sky. Ira, Comfort, and Martin Allen started a legacy in the area that will never be forgotten.
The Jackson Hose Company brought that tradition back to the village in 1981 with an OktoberFest in Babcock Park. For the first few years about a dozen pilots would bring their balloons to the park for take-off. In 1997 it became known as the NYS Festival of Balloons.
Several long term dedicated members have “retired” from the volunteer positions and other community members step up to continue the work. Dorothy Hotchkiss, 2017 President has worked with the committee for about 30 years primarily as marketing chair.
“The beginning of balloons in Dansville actually started with the Flying Allens,” she said. “The most interesting part is that they had launched a smoke balloon on Ossian Street in late August.”
Balloon Pilots have come from all over the country and parts of Canada to sail the skies in Dansville.
“I got interested because I worked at the radio station and wanted to help,” Hotchkiss said. “I wanted to build on what the community has to offer. Not every community has the natural theater for it. We have a very unique landscape.”
Hotchkiss said she loves to watch people enjoy the launch, and families come together for this event. It has become a generational festival, which makes the event a family tradition.
The Zac Brown Tribute Band is playing country music on Sunday, which adds something to the festival that hasn’t been around in about three years.
Talons! Birds of Prey is coming back to the festival on Sunday. The Classic Car Show is coming back on Sunday.
The festival costs five dollars per-person to get in, 12 and under are free. This cost is a day pass, so people can feel free to come and go as they please.
Hotchkiss said that not everyone wants to eat at the festival, or be there all day long. They can pay one price and go enjoy what the village has to offer.
“For the people who don’t want to be at the festival all day they can go eat at a restaurant, watch a movie, or do some shopping, and still be able to come and go from the festival,” she said. “They can spend the day in the community.”
The Balloon Glow is a huge success every year for the community, but not so much the festival.
“There are people who will go to the Balloon Glow, but won’t go to the festival,” Hotchkiss said. “The purpose of The Balloon Glow is to thank the community for all they do. There are many who work at the festival, so this is the Dansville Festival of Balloons committee’s way of letting community members enjoy it.”
For those who purchase rides and for some reason the weather does not hold up, passengers are allowed to go up the next day, or get their money back.
The NYS Festival of Balloons is also looking for new committee member.
“We are looking for new committee members who can devote their time to the festival,” Hotchkiss said. “Someone might bring in new ideas, and make it their own. We would like to keep it affordable, and a family-fun event.”