° empty

Weekend ticket: Balloon, riverfront festivities fill weekend

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Morgan Choat, right, helps Lee Charroine, left, as they attach an arm of the ride called “The Spider” Wednesday afternoon for the Midwest Rides and Concessions carnival that opens tonight on the Vidalia riverfront.

NATCHEZ — If you don’t like fun, food, beautiful sites, music, arts and crafts and great weather, you might just want to stay home this weekend.

But for everyone else, rest up today — the party starts Friday.

The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race will highlight the busiest weekend of the year in Natchez, as hot-air balloons take flight, weather permitting, and music fills the bluff.

Skies are predicted to be sunny and temperatures cool for all the weekend events.

Here’s what you can expect:

Balloon flights

Scheduled flights are at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings and at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Some balloons may also fly at 4:30 Sunday afternoon.

Flights will take off from a variety of locations all around the Miss-Lou, none of which will be determined until moments before lift-off.

To receive information about where and when the balloons are flying, visit www.natchezdemocrat.com/balloon-race-text-alerts to sign up for free updates which will be sent each morning and afternoon to your cell phone or e-mail.

Balloon flights may be delayed or canceled due to wind and weather conditions, but decisions will not be made until flight time.

Balloon glow

Dozens of balloons will inflate just before dark Friday night in and around the festival grounds at the Rosalie Bicentennial Gardens.

Gates will open for the glow at 6 p.m. and tickets are $5.

At 7 p.m., or nightfall, balloons will begin glowing — lighting up their envelopes.

After the glow, fireworks will be visible from the Natchez bluff and the Vidalia riverfront.

Live music by The Walrus, a Beatles tribute band, will be from 8 to 10 p.m.

Balloon race music and events

Festival gates at the Rosalie Bicentennial Gardens will open at 11 a.m. Saturday for a day full of musical performances.

Lil Poochie & Hezekiah Early will play beginning at 12:15 p.m.

The Revivalists will play at 1:45 p.m.

Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes will play at 3:30 p.m.

The Lowrider Band will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., and Anders Osborne and the North Mississippi Allstars will follow.

In addition, rides for children and food booths will be set up inside the festival gates.

The 4:30 p.m. balloon flight will bring balloons over a target set up on the festival grounds as balloon pilots attempt to grab a key to a new vehicle from atop a pole.

Sunday, the festival gates will open at noon for performances by the Concordia Parish Talented Music Program, Benton Blount and Pat Green.

Vidalia riverfront events

The Mad Jax Carnival rides and games will open at 4 p.m. today on the Vidalia Riverfront and again at 4 p.m. Friday.

The carnival will be open all day Saturday and from noon until day’s end Sunday.

Employees with Midwest Rides and Concessions set up the Ferris wheel ride Wednesday afternoon on the Vidalia riverfront. The carnival will be open from today until Sunday night.

Proceeds from the carnival will benefit The Guardian Shelter for Battered Families.

A flea market will be set up along the riverfront starting today through Sunday. Vendors will be selling arts, crafts, jewelry, clothes, candles, furniture and more.

The Pentecostals of the Miss-Lou will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Friday at the Vidalia Amphitheater.

Saturday, seven bands will perform at the Vidalia Riverfront Blues Festival. Admission to the festival is $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. The bands will be: Donnell Sullivan, Dylan Moss Project, Storage 24, Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks, Trey Hawkins Band, Tucka and Klass Band Brotherhood.

Natchez Gem, Jewelry and Bead show

Vendors will be selling gems, jewelry, beads and more from inside the Natchez Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Admission is free.

In addition to the weekend festivities, a few non-balloon related events are planned.

Kiwanis Spaghetti Luncheon

The Natchez Kiwanis Club is having its annual spaghetti luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church for dine it or carry out.

Plates are $7. For more information, call 601-443-2534.

Friday night football

Natchez High School hosts Hattiesburg, Adams County Christian School hosts Brookhaven Academy, Trinity Episcopal hosts Columbia Academy, Block High School hosts Montgomery, Franklin County hosts Prentiss, Jefferson County hosts Hazlehurst and Wilkinson County hosts Crystal Springs. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Cathedral School travels to Dexter, Vidalia travels to Avoyelles, Ferriday High School travels to Lake Providence, Wilkinson County Christian Academy travels to Amite School Center and Centreville Academy travels to Central Private. All games begin at 7 p.m.