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Snowmass balloon, wine fests return this weekend

Staff report

Two Snowmass Village fall traditions will return this weekend.

Snowmass will become a hot-air balloon mecca with the highest altitude hot air balloon event in the country for the 39th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival, Sept. 12-14. Over 30 balloons will ascend upon the Snowmass mountain sky accentuating the beauty of an autumn weekend.

The free spectator events kick off on Sept. 12 with the Carter Memorial Colorado Rat Race, a timed distance race where 25 of the most seasoned and daring pilots race downvalley along the Highway 82 Corridor from 7:30 to 10 a.m.

The weekend also includes the popular Balloon Night Glow on Sept. 13 with glowing balloons lighting up the night sky on Fanny Hill and the new Glow Show in Base Village featuring music, aerial performers, fire performers and more. There will be children’s entertainment, including clowns, juggling, face painting and balloons at the free Kids’ Elevation Station from 7:30 to 10 a.m. on Sept. 13-14.

All balloon events are free and are open to the public. The balloons launch each morning from the Snowmass Village Softball Field at 7:30 a.m. During the SnowMASS Ascension and X-Marks the Spot competitions on Saturday, the 30 pilots will attempt to maneuver as close as possible to two different targets (as determined by official judges), based on the winds the morning of competition. After the competition, the balloons will float effortlessly above the Snowmass valley for an hour or two offering spectacular views and photographic opportunities. A café-style breakfast will be available for purchase.

The SnowMASS Ascension and Balloon Dance on Sept. 14 consists of a coordinated launch of all balloons participating in the festival. Pilots will take off with a partner balloon, each holding one end of flagging tape, and the two balloons that remain in the air the longest with the flagging tape intact win this portion of the competition.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit http://www.snowmassballoon.com. For lodging specials go to http://www.gosnowmass.com or call 1-800-SNOWMASS. The Crestwood Condominiums, the official lodging sponsor for the Snowmass Balloon Festival, can be found at http://www.thecrestwood.com.

In case of inclement weather, call 970-922-2233 for the current status of the Snowmass Balloon Festival.

Bring on the wine

The Snowmass Balloon Festival is also complimented by the Snowmass Wine Festival. The annual fundraiser for the Snowmass Village Rotary Club begins at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 with a Mediterranean Celebration Dinner at the Viceroy Snowmass. Tickets are $145 per person with group discounts for tables of 8 or more.

The Wine Festival continues with a grand tasting on Sept. 13 in the soccer field at Town Park from 2 to 5 p.m., with samplings of over 300 different varieties of wine and fabulous regional cuisine. Music will be provided by Walt Smith & Friends, and there will be a live auction with items that include trips to destinations around the world, acclaimed wines and artwork.

Tickets for the grand tasting are $85 in advance and can be purchased at Sundance Liquor & Gifts in Snowmass Village, Aspen Wine & Spirits, Aspen and El Jebeverage in El Jebel. Tickets are $95 at the festival entrance day of. For a complete schedule or to purchase tickets online, visit http://www.snowmasswinefestival.com. For more information, call Martha O’Keefe at 970-379-6577.

Rocky Mountain Ferrari Car Show

The Ferrari Club of Denver will offer a car show from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 13 in the rodeo lot adjacent to the Snowmass Wine Festival. The car show is free and open to the public. For more information, call Ryan Sabga at 303-916-0548.


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