PLAINVILLE - Hot air balloons and fireworks will leave visitors to Norton Park staring up in awe this Friday through Sunday at the annual Balloon Festival.
The 33rd annual event will bring more than 100 crafters and vendors as well as live music, enough fireworks to light up the night, and several hot air balloons which visitors can watch inflate and rise up into the clouds before their very eyes. Some residents will even join the balloonists, having contacted the Lighter Than Air Society in advance to arrange such an opportunity.
The festival, sponsored by Gnazzo’s Supermarket and Tower Energy, is free to enter and, according to festival coordinator Jim Lenois of the Plainville Fire Company, one of the last hot air balloon shows of its kind in the area. It is also the fire company’s largest fundraiser.
“It is a wonderful, family-friendly event,” said Lenois. “There is always great food and always something for mom, dad and the kids to enjoy. The spectacle is amazing. Unlike other balloon festivals, you can get close and watch as balloons fill up and take off. Last year we had 16 or 17 balloonists. The 25-minute fireworks show is spectacular and lights up the whole sky.”
Last year’s festival was a great success, Lenois said, thanks to 100 people stepping up to volunteer and also to modifications in parking. Rather than people parking at the festival and causing heavy traffic, buses will be picking up festival-goers at Plainville High School, at 47 Robert Holcomb Way, GE Industrial Solutions at 41 Woodford Ave., Robertson Airport at 62 Johnson Ave. and Carling Technologies at 60 Johnson Ave. Parking at Norton Park will be reserved for the handicapped, motorcyclists and event staff.
“We’ve had tremendous positive feedback,” said Lenois. “The response on social media was overwhelming; I can’t think of a single negative post. The Monday after the event, I had someone drive over to the station and ask what we were doing about parking. I informed him that the festival had already happened, and he said that we ‘must have fixed it’ because he didn’t even notice an issue.”
Lenois said last year’s event attracted 125 vendors. He will be taking vendor sign-ups until the day before the festival begins. The craft show is being moved from under the trees to along the park’s gravel roads, in order to avoid tripping hazards. Temporary fencing is also being put into place to give vendors more space.
“We see everything from homemade jellies to jewelry and crafts,” he said.
For more information, or to apply as a vendor, visit plainvillefireco.com.