JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson Hot Air Jubilee is back this year with a weekend full of events.
The Friday morning balloon launch was washed out, but that isn’t stopping the pilots and guests from thinking positively.
“The $20,000 question, right?" said pilot Tom Brown.
"There is some rain in the forecast," he added. "Rain is not good for us the wind speeds look conducive for are flying here but we definitely defer to the leaders to make that decision for the whole of the group,”.
The Thursday night media balloon launch went off without a hitch with great weather conditions. Friday morning was rained out but even when pilots can’t launch their balloons there are many activities taking place throughout the weekend at Ella Sharp Park.
The event includes Jackson Blues Fest, where guests can enjoy music from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m Friday. The featured acts are Boa Constrictor, Nicky T and The Snake Charmers and Sonny Moorman.
Rock bands will perform Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. among them Kung Fu Diesel, Michael May and the Mess Arounds as well as the Big Rig Band.
There will be a pilot meet and greet, a kids playground, food vendors and an auto show as well.
The full list of events can be found here.
“We have Kids Kingdom, we have good bands, we have an adult beverage tent, we have great community support and we have car shows. We have steam engine Model T rides. So hopefully we get some flights in. If not we’ll at least try to get some static displays in for the community to come out and take a look at us,” Balloonmeister Steve Sitko said.
The Hot Air Jubilee was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, interrupting the event for the first time since its inception in 1983. People are anxious to get back out to Ella Sharp Park to enjoy this unique event.
“We were so disappointed with COVID. One of the things that even my family personally missed the most was hot air balloon festivals so we're really excited to be back this year and the team has done a wonderful job,” American 1 Credit Union Vice President of Community Partnerships Janelle Merritt said.
Tyler Jaques who is the pilot of the Post cereal Sugar Bear balloon, loves coming to Jackson and participating in the competition.
“Jackson has always had add crazy little contests where we're like throwing a rubber duck in a swimming pool on top of a golf cart. So instead of just going out to your traditional X and throwing a bean bag, we're doing all kinds of fun things. I've seen rubber chickens. We do balloon hugging where we tie a string from balloon to balloon and it's all for points and it's just a really fun competition instead of a serious competition,” Jaques said.
Jaques learned from his father how to fly balloons. His dad would win multiple competitions bringing home the grand prize of a bicycle. He says he brought home countless bicycles.
Tyler went on to receive his training at Jackson College and has been flying for about 12 years now.
“We’re coming into this little park and you can see all the people down there. They're actually gonna be able to hear us. We can actually yell at him. We could say, ‘Hi how are you doing, good evening,’ stuff like that," Jaques. "What you see in people's backyards the ability to talk to them sometimes where we drop it in nice and low and we're saying ‘hey good morning, what's for breakfast or we got a cup of coffee ready for you,’ so every flight is unique."
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