Festival battles weather

Teams launch to chase the “hare” balloon at the Balloons Tunes and BBQ festival Saturday at Bowling Green- Warren County Regional Airport Saturday. The race was postponed due to gusty winds but resumed later when the conditions improved. JULIA WALKER THOMAS/HERALD

Lucas Aulbach

While weather may have kept the hot air balloons from flying for most of the day at the Balloons, Tunes and BBQ festival Saturday at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport, it did not keep people from coming out to enjoy the event.

“I came out today for the balloons and tunes, but I don’t see any balloons,” said spectator Ron Manfredonia after the balloons didn’t go up at their scheduled time Saturday afternoon.

But, “It’s free – this is better than sitting at home watching TV,” he said.

Funds raised at the event will be given to the United Way of Southern Kentucky, a local charity committed to health and human services throughout the region.

Scattered rain and heavy winds caused many of the the hot air balloon events scheduled for the day to be canceled, including the morning fly-in and the annual Hound and Hare balloon race.

“Organizers were able to get some balloons in the air later Saturday night,” said Hudson, executive assistant at U.S. Bank, title sponsor of the event.

While the balloon events are traditionally a cornerstone of the festival, other activities such as the inflatable fair and music acts attracted a crowd on Saturday.

The bad weather didn’t stop people from gathering in front of the stage before bands such as Easy Street, Floord and Rhett Akins were scheduled to perform.

Attendee Mitch Edwards arrived at the festival at 12:30 p.m. to get a spot close to the stage where country singer Akins would be performing.

“A lot of people left when it rained,” he said around 3:30 p.m., during the sound check on the festival stage, “but I was able to stick it out in my car.”

A crew of about 14 volunteers helped the bands with their sound check as spectators looked on.

Crowds gathered in front of the stage well before the opening act, Easy Street, was set to take the stage at 5:30 p.m.

Four of the five members of Easy Street are WKU graduates, including Erickson.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t rain tonight!” David Erickson, Easy Street rhythm guitarist, shouted at the crowd before the band’s sound check.

He said attending the university helped him meet the right people which made him successful.