Fundraiser for balloon race set for Sunday

Published 8:50 am Saturday, April 14, 2018

By Sabrina Simms and Garrett Kroeger

NATCHEZ — For decades, Natchez has been hosting the Great Mississippi River Balloon Races.

But last year, the yearly tradition was cut short by thunderstorms and high winds that prevented captains from flying. Thus costing the area money in the process.

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“With the weather last year, we lost money,” said Natchez native Curtis Moroney. “I think very few people realize how expensive (balloon races) are. We do it for economic development. There are a lot of local charities that benefit from it.”

Due to trying to make up for the lost money, the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race (GMRBR) Committee will be hosting “Balloons and Tunes” to raise money for the upcoming races from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Smoot’s Grocery, located at 319 North Broadway Street in downtown Natchez.

The event will feature live music from a variety of local artists — including performers such as Brint Anderson, Matt Willis, Fred Parker and Bubba McCabe — inside Smoot’s at $10 per person, the StrEAT food truck, a balloon envelope for kids to play in and even balloon rides for children and adults.

“We don’t traditionally do this,” said executive director of the Historic Natchez foundation Mimi Miller. “But we thought it would be fun to give people tethered rides. This will give us an opportunity to do that.”

The tethered rides will start at $10 for kids and $20 for adults.

“There are tons of people that work to put on the balloon race and nobody makes any money off it,” Moroney said. “Any profit goes to the Historic Natchez Foundation and to the reserves for later years. The gate money is so important to the continuation of the event.”

In the event of rain, Miller said there would be no balloons but everything else would inside Smoot’s.

“We’re hoping people come out and enjoy it,” Miller said. “It’s going to be kid friendly.”