Maybe they should call it a Sky Festival, because Balloons Over RussVegas is about more than hot air. On May 1-4 in Russellville this balloon event includes 20 hot air balloons, a team of skydivers, helicopter rides and powered parachutes. There will also be music concerts, a dog walk, food, and vendors. You can catch a hot air balloon ride on one of the colorful balloons. You will meet at the Russellville Soccer Complex, located at 901 Lock and Dam Road, just before sunrise and help the pilot as part of the crew. The cost is $250 per person. Reservations are required with a $50 deposit and limited space is available. Rides will be offered May 3 and 4, one flight each day. Flight time is about one hour, but length will vary based on the wind, direction, landing opportunities and weather. After touchdown and deflating the balloon, the pilot will perform the traditional initiation for first-time flyers, including the “Balloonist’s Prayer” followed by a champagne ceremony. Then you will return to the Soccer Complex with the pilot and crew in their chase vehicle. Each balloon can carry between 2 and 5 passengers, depending on the size of the balloon and the weight of the passengers. You will need to provide your weight and age when making a reservation. Anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Allow at least 3 hours total time for the entire experience from start to finish. Make your reservations as soon as possible because space is limited. Book your flight online, or by calling Balloon Festival Network, Inc., at 417-336-6060. Of course, you don’t have to ride in one to enjoy their beauty in the sky. Tethered balloon rides are offered at the Soccer Complex on May 2 and 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a cost of $10 per person (cash only). Advanced reservations are not available. Fifty percent of all proceeds from the tethered rides will benefit the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. On a tethered ride, a balloon is secured to the ground by ropes, allowing the balloon to life up to a height of about 25-100 feet above the ground. Two to five persons at a time can ride, based on the size of the balloon and the weight of the passengers. All ages can ride, although some pilots may have certain restrictions. One of the balloons participating in this event has a basket that is designed for handicap accessibility. Those interested in the rush of a free fall or the breathtaking feeling of flying can do tandem skydiving. You and your instructor board the jump plane and climb over 10,000 feet. Signals are given and you exit the aircraft harnessed to your instructor. Then, the chute is opened and you and your instructor float to the target together. The cost is $250 with a $50 deposit. You must be 18 years of age or older by date of jump and less than 250 pounds. Call 417-336-6060 for reservations. Take helicopter rides by Arkansas Helicopters, Inc. from 5-9 p.m. on May 2 and all day May 3. See Zane’s Flying Circus on May 2 in the evening and all day May 3. All of these flying activities take place at the Russellville Soccer Complex are weather dependent. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Rounding out the fun is a concert by Georgette Jones, the only child of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The concert is at 7:30 p.m., May 1 at The Center for The Arts, 2209 S. Knoxville Ave. Tickets for VIP seating are $25, and general admission seats are $20. You can purchase tickets online at BalloonsOverRussvegas.com. Born to the only Hall of Fame husband and wife country artists, Georgette Jones has been singing with one or both parents since the age of three. She recorded her first single with her dad, “Daddy Come Home” when she was ten years old and performed it on an HBO Special. She has also worked as a backup signer for her mom. In addition to the concert, you can also bring your pet for a one-mile trail walk at 10 a.m., May 3 at the soccer complex to raise funds for your favorite charity. Register your pet and select the animal charity of your choice and 100% of your entry fee goes directly to that charity. You receive a free t-shirt and your dog receives a free goodie bag of treats. Then, at 11 a.m. on May 3 you can sample wings from different vendors to decide who has the best, or enter one of the wing eating competitions to prove you are the best. There is a Wing King contest (11:30 a.m.) for who can eat the most, and a Nuclear Wings competition (noon) for who can eat the hottest. The cost to enter is each is $15 and the winner receives a cash prize, trophy and bragging rights. Sounds like a fun event, doesn’t it!
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