February 28th, 2024

Hot-air balloon festival part of city ‘vibrancy’ plans

By COLLIN GALLANT on December 14, 2021.

A couple planning a local hot-air balloon festival has received a Community Vibrancy grant from the city.--SUBMITTED PHOTO

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Vibrancy levels in Medicine Hat may be going up, up and away in 2022 with a hot-air balloon festival.

Recipients of the City of Medicine Hat’s community vibrancy grants, outlined on Monday, say a gathering of hot air balloons in the Gas City will be one of the largest awards in the community-focused grants.

Local couple Willy and Cindy Taillon took up ballooning several years ago and after treating Medicine Hatters to a few fly-overs this year, have taken in weekend gatherings of enthusiasts across the province.

Willy Taillon told the News on Monday that after attending a gathering of 15 aircrafts in High River, he and his wife thought a similar event in the Hat would be a smash hit.

“Bringing something like that here would really be a terrific showcase for the beautiful sport of hot-air ballooning,” he told the News. “It would really be something wonderful that everyone could enjoy.”

The potential grant means planning will move to finalization stages, he said, toward a date and other particulars. Balloon operators would be invited from out of town.

Offering rides to the public might not be possible in the first year, said Taillon, due to insurance requirements. The general program would see three of four days of fly-overs, plus an evening event with balloons lit from within and tethered at ground level while the public mingles.

Sponsorships would be available to local businesses, he said.

Since 2020, the city repurposed several annual grants for events and sporting events to the “Community Vibrancy Grant” to promote community spirit while aligning with COVID-related health measures.

This year a total of $43,000 in grants were allotted at the suggestion of the city’s Community Vibrancy Committee during November. A total of 27 submissions were received totalling $415,100 in requisitions.

One successful application was from Roadworn Productions, which staged the “PorchFest” one-day music event in central Medicine Hat Communities in late August.

A dozen homes were the site of musical performances while Hatters were encouraged to bring lawn chairs and take in the shows.

The group will receive $5,000 in 2022 to stage a second such festival this summer.

Other awards were made to:

– Praxis Science Outreach Society, $5,000, to stage outdoor day-time activities with a “Science Celebration” to mark the group’s 30th anniversary;

– Medicine Hat Jazz Society, $5,000, for outdoor and online JazzFest performances;

– Chinook Village, $4,500, for free festival for older adults, with chartered transportation, workshops and speakers;

– Ever Active Communities – Be Fit for Life, $3,000, customized mobile carts for recreation with partner organizations;

– Folk Music Club, $3,000, Cafe Concerts via the Tongue on the Post Festival;

– SE Hill Community Assoc., $1,500, to operate the Kiwanis Central Park kitchen as a limited concession stand during weekends;

– Medicine Hat Cycle Co-op, $1,000, supplies for volunteers to fix bicycles that are donated to local charities.

The list was received for adoption by the committee.

It will be finalized when the minutes are received by city council at its Dec. 20 meeting.

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