Bal­loon fes­ti­val in jeop­ardy

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

Lift Off Levin will go ahead at Easter thanks to a pri­vate backer, but this could be the hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val’s last launch, its founder warns.

Bal­loon­ing en­thu­si­ast De­nis Hall said this year was the fes­ti­val’s 10th, but fund­ing of at least $20,000 for each fes­ti­val would need to be se­cured for fu­ture years, to meet op­er­at­ing costs.

Last year’s fes­ti­val did not go ahead due to bad weather, but in 2013 it at­tracted 13,000 peo­ple. About half were from out­side Levin – mainly from Kapiti, Hall said.

A com­mu­nity trust that had helped fund the event in the past had folded, he said.

The or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee needed fund­ing to pay for se­cu­rity, toi­lets, rental of park fa­cil­i­ties, road­ing con­trac­tors for traf­fic man­age­ment, fi­nan­cial ac­count­ing ser­vices and to ar­range en­ter­tain­ment.

Con­tri­bu­tions were also made to cover about one third of the trans­porta­tion costs, for bal­loon­ists to get their equip­ment to the fes­ti­val.

Hall said Levin res­i­dent He­len Blake had made a con­tri­bu­tion, which al­lowed them to se­cure 10 to 12 bal­loon­ists this year.

This would al­low the back­bone of the fes­ti­val, the com­pe­ti­tion dis­plays, to go ahead. How­ever, one of the most popular events for spec­ta­tors had to be left off the pro­gramme.

‘‘We haven’t made proper plans yet for a night glow, be­cause we don’t have the money and we are not likely to get the money.’’

Hall hoped a last ditch spon­sor­ship ap­peal could help.

‘‘ There’s no cor­po­ra­tion in Levin that’s big enough, and we’re pretty con­fi­dent that the coun­cil’s never go­ing to put a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money into it. They put $20,000 into it, to start it.

‘‘We are go­ing to in­vite fam­i­lies and busi­nesses to spon­sor a bal­loon. It’s about $1000, so they could have their name on the bas­kets.’’

Spon­sors would be in­vited to be in­volved in crew­ing the bal­loons on the ground, with the pos­si­bil­ity that flights might be of­fered where op­er­a­tors were able.

Hall said he and the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee had backed Lift Off Levin for 10 years, be­cause of their love for the sport and the be­lief that the fes­ti­val made a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion.

Af­ter a ma­jor heart op­er­a­tion last year, Hall said he would be tak­ing a step back next year.

‘‘It has given a hell of a lot to me, it has been a neat thing to do, but it has been huge amounts of work.’’

Hall said he be­lieved the fes­ti­val pro­vided a lot of joy.

‘‘The bal­loons fly over town ev­ery day, and most evenings . . . and if you have a bal­loon fes­ti­val in your town you don’t have to go any­where to see it, you just have to look up.

‘‘It makes peo­ple who live out­side the re­gion see us in a dif­fer­ent light.’’

De­flated: Lift Off Levin founder De­nis Hall has backed the hot air bal­loon fes­ti­val for 10 years, but says with­out back­ers it may run out of hot air.

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