Festival offers plenty for all

Published 11:50 pm Thursday, October 18, 2007

NATCHEZ — With a big event like The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race this weekend, other activities have popped up to join the party.

So, there’s plenty to do for everyone.

Balloon enthusiasts can catch liftoffs at 7 a.m. today, and 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A balloon glow at 7 p.m. today on the bluffs gives visitors an opportunity to get up close and personal with the hot air giants. Today’s light show will be capped off with fireworks over the river.

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“Another reason to come and watch the glow is then people have front-row seats for watching the fabulous fireworks,” Balloon Race Executive Director Laura Godfrey said.

Music buffs can listen to Big Sam’s Funky Nation at 8 p.m. today.

In Vidalia, fans of Christian rock can hear bands DecembeRadio, NeverTheLess, Bread of Stone and Superhero at the ampitheatre for an admission price of $10 beginning at 8 p.m.

Saturday, music fans can catch H.G. Breland at noon, Country Fried at 1 p.m., Amanda Shaw with Brint Anderson at 2:15 p.m., Benjy Davis Project at 4 p.m., Edgar Winter Group at 5:45 p.m., Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes at 7:30 p.m. and headliner Better than Ezra at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor will perform at 1 p.m., Walter “Wolfman” Washington at 2:45 p.m. and Marcia Ball at 4:45 p.m.

“This really is the most dynamite music lineup we’ve had in a long time,” Godfrey said. “For a town this size to have a music festival this big is unique. It’s just a fun experience for people to come out and see these big acts, especially with a beautiful backdrop like the river.”

The music portion of the festival has grown significantly in past years, Godfrey said. Today, the balloon festival is known as much for its music as its hot air balloons, she said.

The Vidalia Landing Flea Market will also open at 7 p.m. tonight and will run through the rest of the weekend.

The 130-vendor flea market is not affiliated with the balloon glow, organizer Bill Hancock said.

Near the balloon glow on the south end of the Vidalia Riverwalk Friday will be a carnival, events coordinator at the Vidalia Confrence and Convention Center Jenny Branton said.

All proceeds from the carnival will go to the Natchez Children’s Home, she said.

For families, Saturday and Sunday’s balloon festivals feature regional foods, carnival rides and a sports bar tent. The festival grounds open 11 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

“We have really fantastic regional foods,” Godfrey said. “And of course, all the children love the carnival.”

This year, thanks to a new sports bar where visitors can check on their favorite teams, sports fans have no excuse not to come to the festival, she said.

“It’s just such a well-rounded family activity,” Godfrey said.