Findlay's Flag City Balloon Fest got its start in 2000 when Dan Clinger and his son Phil decided their new affection for hot air ballooning could be combined to celebrate the new millennium. With the help of 15 or so volunteers and family the event got off the ground. So successful was that first event, that it became an annual event. Today, the Flag City Balloonfest is one of Ohio's premiere hot air balloon events.
The Flag City Balloon Festival usually held around the middle of August. There is no admission and parking is free (although it may be difficult to find, and is definitely a problem after the end of the festivities in the evening).
Opening ceremonies are held on Friday with a mass balloon launch followed by half of the balloonists re-inflating for a spectacular evening glow. Saturday features a hot-air balloon Fly-In where the balloonist's must make individual decisions on the best place to launch in order to arrive at the park as part of a series of competitive tasks they must perform to gain valuable standing points in the competition.
Based on weather condtitions, balloon crews set out to find a suitable location from which to launch. This may take several stops to determine local wind speed and direction. Once a suitable location is found, the crew must ask permission from the landowner to take off from their property (landing on private property also requires the ground crew to obtain permission). After inflating the envelope and launching, it is then up to the pilot to find the best altitude for the most favorable winds that will take them to their next task.
For those willing to venture out into the country side, they are rewarded with seeing the balloons flying low over the expansive farm fields and roadways. It is surprising how easy it is to carry on a conversation with balloonist as they fly overhead.
The event also has a number of activities going on throughout the weekend other than the hot air balloons including a Classic Car Show, Motorcycle Parade, and as they say, lots more.
Emory Adams Park where the event is held, is a large park so expect to do plenty of walking. There are number of vendors along the west side of the park offering the usual fair foods. Although some bleachers are provided, it is best to bring your own seating.