Balloon Fest to Promote Centralia Businesses
Centralia Balloon Fest will be a “balloons only” event due to social distancing requirements and is asking for businesses and organizations to plan events for the weekend of August 21-23, 2020.
Restaurants, bars, retail stores, and other organizations are being asked to create something to draw customers into their businesses. Some ideas given are live music, crafts or vendors, sale specials, family activities, or customer appreciation events. These activities will be shared through local news media and social media
“We want to invite people to Centralia to see hot air balloons in the sky in the evening and mornings of Balloon Fest weekend. While people are in town, we want them to eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. What could be better than having a meal while listening to live music and seeing hot air balloons above?” says Marcus Holland, executive director for the Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce.
With the Reopen Illinois phased plan, social distancing requirements have not been decided for late August. Phase 4 of the plan is scheduled to start on June 26. The state is not opening to Phase 5 until there is a treatment or vaccine and no new cases.
“It is unfortunate that we have so many unknowns. We are not able to plan our typical balloon fest event in one location with 30,000 people in attendance. This year we want to attract visitors, but to socially distance across the entire community,” says Holland.
Hot air balloon flights are scheduled for 6:00pm on Friday, August 21; 6:00am and 6:00pm on Saturday, August 22; and 6:00am on Sunday, August 23. The balloon glows are scheduled at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday. Locations will be decided closer to time of the event with social distancing requirements being evaluated to give the best opportunity to see balloons. The event is free this year and people can stay in their vehicles, to remain socially distant.
“We have acquired our balloon sponsors and major sponsors. We are not going to ask for any other sponsors, since we do not have other expenses. The idea is to encourage businesses to spend that sponsorship money on themselves to add an activity and buy advertising with local media. It is a win-win-win if we can support local businesses, support our community, and support our media,” says Holland.
The schedule of community events will be shared on the balloon fest website, social media, and in local newspapers and radio stations. Any updates or changes will be posted as businesses reopen and new requirements are communicated.
“We want our local residents to have events, too. Invite family to town. Hang out in your backyards to see hot air balloons. Whatever we do, we want everyone to be safe, be entertained, eat good food, and enjoy Centralia Balloon Fest,” says Holland.
This is the 31st year for Centralia Balloon Fest. Typically held in Foundation Park with 35 hot air balloons, this year’s event will feature more than 20 balloons and incorporate all businesses and amenities in our community. Tshirts, mugs, souvenirs, and decorations can be purchased at the Centralia Chamber of Commerce. For updated information, follow Centralia Balloon Fest on Facebook or check out www.centraliaballoonfest.com.