Ohio Balloon Challenge Festival not just about balloons

The 15th annual Ohio Balloon Challenge Festival isn’t all about the balloons.

Thousands of people from around Butler County, and beyond, were in Smith Park on Saturday afternoon and evening for the annual festival. And there was plenty to do and see — including tethered balloon rides, games and skydiving..

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There was also food. Diane and Dennis Bray, of Liberty Twp., enjoyed some ice cream before viewing the dozens of cars at the annual car show. The newlyweds, celebrating their second anniversary, just moved to the area.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Diane Bray. “It’s a great thing for families.”

In looking over the crowd, Dennis Bray said, “it’s great to see the community coming together in hosting things like this because it just brings everybody together.”

And that is what Middletown needs, said Jeff Poe, a Hamilton native and Liberty Twp. resident.

“Middletown is a depressed community so it’s great to see something that can give anything back,” he said. “Anything that helps to get everybody out in a safe place is good for Middletown. Middletown always gets a bad rap, so it’s a good thing for them to have something positive to hang their hat on.”

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The festival started Friday and concluded Saturday evening with the scheduled balloon glow and fireworks show.

And though there is no festival activity Sunday, there will be tethered balloon rides, weather permitting, and a remote balloon launch for competitors in the Ohio Challenge.

The festival is one of the largest in the area, with more than 300 volunteers catering to tens of thousands of guests. Last year, organizers say an estimated 55,000 attended the festival.

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