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Old West Balloon Fest 2024 in Nebraska

A premier ballooning celebration in Western Nebraska

Dates: August 7–10, 2024

Old West Balloon Fest
Old West Balloon Fest
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The Old West Balloon Fest is an outstanding ballooning event in Western Nebraska. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the festival, scheduled to take place from August 7 to August 10 in Mitchell. With over 50 hot air balloons, skilled pilots from around the world, and a variety of family-friendly activities, the festival is set to be a great summer break.

Activities and Attractions

The highlight of the festival is the morning mass ascension at Mitchell Recreation Field, where dozens of balloons take flight at sunrise, creating a breathtaking spectacle. Additionally, balloon rides are available for those who wish to experience the magic of ballooning firsthand, with flights scheduled every morning and evening, weather permitting. Evening events include the popular Night Glow sessions and a drone show. The festival also features a kids' discovery zone, a craft fair, and even a cornhole tournament. Attendees can also enjoy the annual Wiener Dog Races at Miners Park and explore a variety of food and merchandise vendors, scattered across the festival grounds.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, August 7

The festivities kick off on Wednesday, August 7, with "Welcome Wednesday," a day dedicated to celebrating volunteers and sponsors with a BBQ and softball game at Pioneer Park. This year also introduces a Remote Controlled Balloon Demonstration, showcasing smaller, propane-fueled balloons.

Thursday, August 8

On Thursday, August 8, Western Nebraska Community College hosts the highly anticipated Night Glow, where hot air balloons light up the night sky from 6 to 9 pm. Attendees can enjoy food and merchandise vendors and meet balloon pilots.

Friday, August 9

Friday, August 9, starts with the morning mass ascension at Mitchell Recreation Field. This sunrise event features the spectacular sight of hot air balloons taking flight. Throughout the morning, visitors can explore the kids discovery zone, watch RC balloon demonstrations, and participate in other balloon-related activities.

Saturday, August 10

The mass ascension and accompanying activities are repeated on Saturday, August 10, with additional offerings such as a beer garden serving mimosas and Bloody Marys. Saturday also features a bustling craft fair in downtown Mitchell, from 7:30 am to 3 pm, with over 100 local vendors, and the fourth annual Wiener Dog Races at Miners Park at 10 am. Competitive spirits can enjoy the Corn Hole Tournament, hosted by Redz Bar and Grill at 10 am, with over 35 teams competing for top prizes. The festival culminates on Saturday evening with the Old West Balloon Fest Night Glow and Skyworx Drone Show at Mitchell Recreation Field (gates open at 5 pm). This grand finale includes a dazzling display of glowing balloons and a drone light show, accompanied by live music, food and merchandise vendors, and a beer garden.

Tickets and Parking

Admission to the Old West Balloon Fest is $20 per carload, covering entry for the entire weekend. Parking is available at designated areas near the main event sites and volunteers are on hand to assist attendees.

Location and Infrastructure

The festival takes place in Mitchell, Nebraska. Mitchell Recreation Field serves as the primary launch site for the balloons, while other activities are spread across nearby venues such as Center Street and Pioneer Park. For those traveling from out of town, the closest city is Scottsbluff, located approximately 10 miles (16 km) from Mitchell. Scottsbluff offers additional amenities, including lodging, dining, and shopping options, ensuring a comfortable stay for festival-goers.

History

The Old West Balloon Fest has a storied history, with its origins dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. The event, initially held in various locations within Scotts Bluff County, was revived in 2015 at Mitchell Airfield. This revival was driven by the community's desire to bring back the beloved festival, and the new site allowed for an increase in the number of participating balloons. In 2018, the festival bid to host the U.S. Nationals Hot Air Ballooning Championship, and by 2019, it successfully hosted the competition for the first time.

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