Miss-Lou will be soaring with annual race weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2000

The skies over the Miss-Lou will be full of hot air this weekend as colorful balloons lift off for the 15th year in a row. More than 60 hot air balloons will take part in the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race. Friday marks the start of the annual event, which will include live entertainment, games and 64 balloons.

&uot;We’re expecting great weather and we’re looking forward to another really quality event,&uot; said Laura Godfrey, race committee chairman

The festival will take place at Rosalie Bicentennial Gardens on Broadway Street in downtown Natchez.

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It will begin at 7 p.m. today with the Balloon Glow, fireworks and live music from Marva Wright and the BMWs.

Nine balloons will glow at the festival site, about 12 will glow at the Ramada Inn Hilltop on John R. Junkin Drive and the rest will glow at the mat fields in Vidalia.

People who would like to view the balloon glow on the Vidalia side are asked to park on the south side of the Mississippi River Bridge.

They should turn south on Deer Park Road and enter the mat fields from the south entrance.

The public is asked not to walk among the &uot;glowing&uot; balloons until they have been inflated.

The race committee is expecting a large crowd for the balloon glow and all other weekend events.

All area hotels are booked, but the committee has also been promoting the race to &uot;day-trippers,&uot; Godfrey said.

Balloon races will take place at 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

Balloon &uot;races&uot; often require pilots to locate large targets and drop bean-bag markers near the target.

But as competition heats up in the air, festival-goers will be enjoying themselves on the ground.

On Saturday, the festival will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Special attractions this year include the &uot;Arky&uot; balloon, a replica of Noah’s Ark and a balloon shaped like a panda bear head which will be located at the festival site for the balloon glow and tethered inside the site from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

Included in Saturday’s live entertainment are performances by Eddie Money, a top-10 artist from the 1980s and Mark Lindsay, the former lead singer for Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Patrick Henry and the Liberation Band will end Saturday’s events with an 8 p.m. street dance.

&uot;I really think we’re going to have a great crowd this weekend because we have a great line-up of entertainment,&uot; said Suzan Hogue, race committee member.

The Phoenix Carousel Company will be open Saturday and Sunday with carnival rides and concessions for children. All proceeds from the children’s village are donated to the Natchez Children’s Home and all other festival profits are donated to local charities.

On Sunday, the festival site will open at noon and close at 6 p.m. It will include more live entertainment such as Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Vince Vance and the Valiants and Al &uot;Little Fats&uot; Jackson.