Middletown hot air balloon festival canceled due to coronavirus

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Ohio Challenge 2018

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

One of the area’s biggest draws each summer, the Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival, is canceled this year due to coronavirus.

The event was scheduled for July 17-18 at Smith Park. This would have been its 19th year.

“We have determined the health risks are too great to ensure the safety of pilots, vendors, volunteers, and patrons. In addition, one of the primary sources of income for the event is corporate sponsorships and most companies are experiencing financial challenges and are prioritizing their resources on the well-being of employees and the business,” said Dave Pearce, an event executive committee member.

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Last year, the event had 49 corporate sponsors and nine corporate booth sponsors, Pearce said. He said the Ohio Challenge typically attracts 20,000 to 30,000 visitors for the two-day event. The economic impact is $1.5 million to the city of Middletown, officials said.

“We would like to recognize our sponsors, volunteers, vendors, balloon pilots, skydivers, and the public for your commitment to the event over the past 18 years,” he said. “It is your enthusiasm and love for the event that drives us to provide the most memorable experience possible year after year.”

Pearce said the next Ohio Challenge is scheduled for July 16-17, 2021.