Annual festival celebrates thirtieth year

Jackie McLean

Fair to host festivities for all ages

Credit: DKS Editors

Every third weekend of September, people crowd the streets in downtown Ravenna to enjoy live entertainment, business vendors, craft booths and food concessions. This year will be no different.

The Ravenna Balloon A-Fair is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this weekend with a number of activities in downtown Ravenna and Sunbeau Valley Farm, located at 3229 state Route 59.

Deborah Sunderland, public relations and marketing coordinator for the festival, estimates the event will bring in anywhere from 10 to 15 thousand people this year. She said the Balloon A-Fair is popular for people of all ages.

“In downtown Ravenna, we have a whole street called Children’s Alley, and everything on that street is geared toward children,” Sunderland said.

This year’s theme is “Thirty Years of Magical Memories.”

“We’re highlighting the businesses and the people of the community for all of the hard work they’ve done throughout the years,” Sunderland said.

Judy Tompkins, chairwoman for both downtown and Sunbeau Valley Farm booths, said there has been such an overwhelming response to the event that they have had to open up North Chestnut Street to accommodate all the business vendors.

Ravenna High School junior Corey Autry is excited about attending this year’s Balloon A-Fair, and recommends that people attend.

“It’s a fun time to spend with family and friends,” he said.

Although events will be held tomorrow and Friday, the Balloon A-Fair will officially kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday in downtown Ravenna with the 90-minute Grand Parade.

Following the parade, crowd members can wander down Main Street, visiting different booths and displays while listening to live entertainment.

Entertainment will include American Steal, Cocktail Johnny and Big Daddy & the HooDoo Men. Mike Hemmelgarn, comedy juggler and ventriloquist, will also perform.

Vendors will include Chuck’s Elephant Ears, Fudgie Wudgie Fudge and Chocolates, Handmade Jewelry by Rhonda Newman and Fox’s Pizza Den. There will also be a souvenir booth set up where people can purchase T-shirts, 30-year anniversary coins and patches.

The festivities continue at Sunbeau Valley Farm, where 25 hot air balloons will be launched at 5:30 p.m. A fireworks display will be held at dusk on Saturday.

On Sunday, Sunbeau Valley Farm will open at 9 a.m. with the Antique Tractor Show, and hot air balloons will be launched again at 5:30 p.m., ending the Balloon A-Fair.

Admission for Sunbeau Valley Farm is $5 per person, while children 12 years and younger get in free. Parking is also free.

Contact all correspondent Jackie McLean at [email protected].