New event try­ing to take off

Three gi­ant hot air bal­loons cap­tured at­ten­tion in Alexan­dra.

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Lack of spon­sor sup­port is tak­ing the hot air out of plans for the South Is­land’s only hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val to get off the ground in 2018.

Three hot air bal­loons were raised at Alexan­dra’s Pioneer Park on Tues­day and Molyneux Park on Mon­day night, as a taster for the public of what is to come in June.

Cen­tral Events owner Elaisa Chap­man said the bal­loons were raised and teth­ered to ve­hi­cles as a vis­ual to en­cour­age in­ter­est from mem­bers of the public. Vis­i­tors to the park in­cluded Alexan­dra Pri­mary School and St Ger­ard’s School pupils, as well as passersby, she said.

‘‘They are sport bal­loon­ers who don’t get out that of­ten so they jumped at the chance to come down. Sports bal­loon­ers just fly for fun whereas com­mer­cial bal­loon­ers have peo­ple pay to fly with them.’’

While in­ter­est from the public was soar­ing, calls for spon­sor­ship were fall­ing flat.

‘‘I just want a hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val here. I just came up with the idea re­ally and have gone from there. I pitched it to the com­mu­nity to see what in­ter­est I would get. There has been a lot of ver­bal sup­port but I am still need­ing fund­ing and spon­sor­ship to host the fes­ti­val next year, as well as get bal­loon­ists to come down here, ac­com­mo­da­tion and their LPG.’’

Alexan­dra’s airspace was ideal for a hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val, she said.

‘‘I didn’t want any­thing like War­birds Over Wanaka. We have not got a fes­ti­val in the South Is­land and we have a bit more space to take off and land down here...We have got largely un­used air space com­pared with Queen­stown with all the he­li­copters, planes and com­mer­cial bal­loon­ing. We have pretty much got noth­ing. It would be the south­ern most fes­ti­val in the world and just some­thing new for the re­gion.’’

June would pro­vide ‘‘per­fect’’ fly­ing con­di­tions, she said.

She hoped to at­tract be­tween six and eight bal­loon­ists to the three-day fes­ti­val, and those in the in­dus­try were ex­cited at the prospect, she said.

The fes­ti­val would in­clude fly­ing dur­ing the day, then a ‘‘night glow’’ at the Alexan­dra Air­port on the Satur­day where the bal­loons would be lit up.

Bal­loon fes­ti­vals are held in the Wairarapa and the Waikato. Last year, the Levin fes­ti­val was grounded for good.

‘‘We have not got a fes­ti­val in the South Is­land and we have a bit more space to take off and land down here...We have largely un­used air space.’’

DEWALD DE BEER

Cen­tral Events owner Elaisa Chap­man

Hot air bal­loons were raised in Alexan­dra to pro­mote a fes­ti­val planned for 2018.

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