Centralia Balloon Fest to fly on with social distancing modifications

Hot air balloons will return to Centralia this summer for the annual Balloon Festival.

However, this year’s will be a “balloons only” event due to social distancing requirements.

The balloon fest is scheduled for August 21 to 23.

This means you can still watch the hot air balloons as they decorate the sky but organizers are not inviting visitors to a sole location.

Instead, you are encouraged to stop at local restaurants, bars, retail stores, and other organizations to enjoy the site.

Area businesses will be providing live music, vendors, sale specials, family activities, and other customer appreciation events.

“We want to invite people to Centralia to see hot air balloons in the sky in the evening and mornings of Balloon Fest weekend. While people are in town, we want them to eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. What could be better than having a meal while listening to live music and seeing hot air balloons above?” says Marcus Holland, executive director for the Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce.

Organizers say this event typically draws in close to 30,000 visitors.

However, they say there are too many unknowns to host typical balloon fest events.

Hot air balloon flights are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, August 21; 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 22; and 6 a.m. on Sunday, August 23.

The balloon glows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Locations will be decided closer to the time of the event with social distancing requirements being evaluated to give the best opportunity to see balloons.

The event is free this year and people can stay in their vehicles, to remain socially distant.

The schedule of community events will be shared on the balloon fest website, social media, and in local newspapers and radio stations. Any updates or changes will be posted as businesses reopen and new requirements are communicated.

“We want our local residents to have events, too. Invite family to town. Hang out in your backyards to see hot air balloons. Whatever we do, we want everyone to be safe, be entertained, eat good food, and enjoy Centralia Balloon Fest,” says Holland.

This is the 31st year for Centralia Balloon Fest.

This year’s event will feature more than 20 balloons.