Second day of balloon race to feature music, rides

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2000

Today, two balloon races, a street dance, and live music, children’s carnival rides and new attractions on the grounds of Rosalie will highlight the second day of the 15th annual Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

&uot;This is the biggest weekend in Natchez in terms of economic impact,&uot; said race committee Chairman Laura Godfrey.

At least 1,500 people attended the festival last year — exact numbers are hard to come by since ticket sales aren’t tracked — and more are expected this year, Godfrey said. In all, 64 hot-air balloons will take part in races starting at 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Once in the air, participants will attempt to drop bean-bag markers as close to targets on the ground as possible.

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Balloon pilots have traveled from as far away as New Mexico, Oregon and Michigan to participate in the race. In fact, some have participated for several years now, said Crew Coordinator Sally Durkin.

The festival will be open today from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Live entertainment will include performances by Eddie Money as well as Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

The Phoenix Carousel Co. will host carnival rides and concession stands for children at the event, with proceeds going to the Natchez Children’s Home. The festival will also feature a variety of merchandise, food and beverage booths.

Attractions will include the Arky balloon, made to resemble Noah’s ark, and a balloon shaped like a panda bear. The balloons will be inflated at the festival site from noon to 2 p.m. if weather permits.

Patrick Henry and the Liberation Band will perform at the street dance, which begins at 7 p.m. on the grounds of Rosalie.

On Sunday, the festival will be held from noon to 6 p.m., featuring such live entertainment as Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Vince Vance and the Valiants, and Al &uot;Little Fats&uot; Jackson.

All festival guests must enter the Rosalie grounds by the Broadway Street entrance.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate or at the Natchez Visitor’s Center.

Adult tickets are $3 for Friday, $10 for Saturday, $5 Sunday or a weekend pass for $15. Tickets for children 12 and under are $1 for Friday, $3 for Saturday, $3 for Sunday or a weekend pass for $5. Children six and under are admitted free.

Pets, coolers and tents are not permitted at the festival site.

Guests can park at the Natchez Visitor’s Center, on South Canal Street. A trolley will be carrying people to the festival site from the downtown trolley stops and the visitor’s center.

Some charities who receive donations from the balloon race are the Historic Natchez Foundation, Project Southern Cross and the Mostly African Market, the Natchez Association for Preservation of African-American Culture, the Natchez Adams County Humane Society and the Children’s Christmas Tree&160;Fund, the Natchez Downtown Development Association, Pleasant Acre Day School and the Natchez Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.