Rain and storms caused the early closure Friday of the Ohio Challenge hot air balloon festival in Middletown. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Weather again delays major Middletown hot air balloon event

The Ohio Challenge competition and glow was cancelled Friday night when strong storms moved through the area. The weather kept pilots from launching again this morning.

The festival portion of the Ohio Challenge is still scheduled for today, and organizers are hopeful current rain will move out before it begins at 4 p.m.

MORE: UPDATE: Balloon glow, flights cancelled Friday night at Ohio Challenge in Middletown

“The pilots are very eager to launch,” said Kathy Stites, event manager. “If the rains stops, then they can glow, that usually happens about dusk. And there will be fireworks rain or shine.

The challenge is scheduled from 4 to 10:30 p.m. today at Smith Park. In addition to the balloons, there is a car show, a band and vendors filling the park.

As many as 60,000 visitors are expected in Middletown over the weekend for the event, according to Stites.

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