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Getting into the balloon-festival business

Balloons hover near Bald Eagle Lake in Steamboat Springs in 2018I've been in the local-media business a long time and have gotten my hands into a wide variety of initiatives. And while I've managed events, I've never taken on something of the scope of a hot-air balloon festival. Well, that time has come. 

The Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce has handed management of the long-running Steamboat balloon event over the Steamboat Pilot & Today. We're thrilled to be entrusted to take over an iconic event that has brought tens of thousands of visitors to Steamboat over the last 37 years. 

This year's event will be July 13-14, and will feature early morning launches Saturday and Sunday and a Saturday evening "Night Glow" in which the hot-air balloon launches don't lift off but instead deliver a light show as night falls. 

I shadowed chamber staff during the 2018 Hot Air Balloon Rodeo to learn the ropes of putting on the event, and also attended the Soaring above Bald Eagle Lake at the 2018 Steamboat balloon event.much larger Labor Day Liftoff in Colorado Springs to pick up some other ideas. 

There are many things that work well with the Steamboat event, so we plan to protect what's working. One thing we will change is to rename the event the Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Festival.  We will still offer competitions for the balloon pilots -- that's where the Rodeo term comes from -- but want to accentuate the full complement of activities visitors can enjoy while at the three balloon events. 

There is much planning to be done in the coming months, so stay tuned as we move forward. But be sure to block out July 13-14 on your calendars. 

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