Balloons, Tunes and BBQ this weekend

Rachael Walters

U.S. Bank will host its annual festival, Balloons, Tunes and BBQ this weekend, which benefits the United Way of Southern Kentucky.

The event, which kicked off Thursday night at the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport, is free to the public and will last until Sunday.

Mandy Baker, the director of volunteering and brand management for the United Way of Southern Kentucky, hopes this year’s event will raise at least $20,000.

Last year, poor weather caused the organization to raise only $5,000 — drastically lower than 2009’s $22,000 total. Money raised will go back into the surrounding community.

“We understand bad weather prevents people from coming out,” Baker said. “But we encourage everyone who can, especially if we have good weather, to come out and have a good time while helping their community.”

Parking and all concerts are free for the duration of the festival.

Thursday began with Kids’ Night, and included a carnival and hot air balloon pilot meet and greet.

Friday continues with Family Night, beginning at 3 p.m., and the Balloon Glow. Concerts begin at 5 p.m. with Miss Nomer, followed by the seventh-annual Bowling Green Idol singing competition and a performance by the band, The Farm.

Saturday kicks off with the competitive hot air balloon fly-in event after daybreak. Award-winning barbecue champion Donny Brat will teach two cooking classes in the afternoon and pre-registration is required to participate.

The Hare and Hound Hot Air Balloon Race will begin at 5 p.m., and the concerts will start at 5:30 p.m. with “Salvage Town.” Country artists Chris Cavanaugh, Walker Hayes and Mark Wills will follow.

Festivities will wrap up on Sunday after daybreak with the final competitive hot air balloon fly-in event.

For more information and a complete schedule of events visit: