New event trying to take off
Three giant hot air balloons captured attention in Alexandra.
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.’’
Central Events owner Elaisa Chapman
Hot air balloons were raised in Alexandra to promote a festival planned for 2018.