Photo: Nicolas Raymond, C.C. 2.0
A new hot air balloon festival is coming to Fayetteville this summer, and organizers recently released the schedule for the inaugural event.
Soar NWA is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 24 at Drake Field in Fayetteville, and will feature a variety of hot air balloon and other aeronautics activities.
This year’s event will include traditional balloon rides, tethered rides, a skydiving show, a balloon glow, live music, a beer garden, guest speakers, a vendor faire, food trucks, and more.
The event is a fundraiser for Open Avenues, a local organization that works to provide life and job skills training, paid work opportunities, community employment, and transportation for people with disabilities living in Northwest Arkansas.
Development coordinator Maddie Hernandez told us earlier this year that Open Avenues wanted to come up with a fun, unique event to help raise funds for the organization.
“Our development team was tasked to come up with a fundraiser idea that would stand out,” Hernandez said. “We wanted something special and affordable that the general public and community wouldn’t want to miss. We just got creative, and funny enough our office manager’s brother is a Balloonist and with his experience and help we came up with the idea for SOAR NWA.”
All of the balloon activities, of course, are subject to good weather.
“The first thing you learn about planning anything to do with Hot Air Balloons is to use the word “Weather permitting” like it’s your job,” Hernandez said. “Hot Air Balloons are very fickle when it comes to weather and it has to be just right in order for them to get off the ground, which is one of the reasons we are having a variety of other activities for the public to enjoy.”
Skydive Fayetteville will also be on hand offering an opportunity for thrill seekers to skydive at the event.
Tickets to the event are $10 for adults, $5 for children, and a $40 “family pack is also available. To purchase, visit the Eventbrite page. All of the proceeds from the event will benefit Open Avenues, an organization that provides life and job skills training, paid work opportunities, community employment, and transportation for people with disabilities living in Northwest Arkansas.
A full event schedule is listed below. For a bit more information, check out the festival website.
2019 Soar NWA Festival Event Schedule
7 a.m. – Gates open, Kid Zone opens, pancake breakfast begins, tethered balloon rides (weather permitting) begin
7:15 a.m. – Balloons in flight
8 a.m. – Entertainment stage opens
8:30 a.m. – Skydiving begins (pre-registration is required), helicopter rides open
10 a.m. – Car show begins
12 p.m. – Beer garden opens
4 p.m. – VIP Meet & Greet with hosts Sue & Charles Redfield (VIP ticket holders only)
6 p.m. – Skydive Show – Skydive Fayetteville
6 p.m. – Tethered rides
6:30 p.m. – Welcome: Governor Asa Hutchinson
6:45 p.m. – Balloon pilot meet and greet
8 p.m. – Balloon glow (weather permitting), Thank You: Mayor Lioneld Jordan (remarks)
9:30 p.m. – Beer garden last call
10 p.m. – Event concludes
9 a.m. – Island Pacific Dancers
10 a.m. – Magician Brett Shaw
11 a.m. – Pilot Arts
12 p.m. – Honest Mechanic
1 p.m. – Tater, Mater and Squarsh
2 p.m. – Dandelion Heart
3 p.m. – Ashtyn Barbaree
4 p.m. – The Trashcan Bandits
5 p.m. – Take Cover
6:45 p.m. – Jenn & the Soulshakers
8:30 p.m. – Randall Shreve & The Devilles