North Country Report: Adirondack Balloon Festival ready to take to the skies again

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QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Ask Balloonmaster Robert Dicks how he feels about managing the 50 or so balloons behind the return of the Adirondack Balloon Festival, and he’ll tell you.

“Less stressed, the closer we get.”

Dicks and festival board president Mark Donohue had a busy day ahead of them on Friday morning at Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury, preparing for a 3 p.m. gate opening that would see fewer balloons than a usual year, but that they hope to keep things as COVID-19 safe as possible.

“We just had to be flexible,” said Donohue. “With COVID, we had to change our plans many times to keep things safe.”

That’s also led to the elimination of vendors this year, as well as the decision to run things exclusively at the airport. In other years, some balloons have launched from Crandall Park in Glens Falls.

Many of the festival regulars not coming this year hailed from further away, like California or event outside the United States. But another deciding factor was a surprising number who weren’t vaccinated. Those people had to be cut out of the event early on.

And it’s COVID that lingers in organizers minds, and in the DNA of this weekend’s festival.

Essential workers will be honored on Saturday morning’s 6:30 a.m. flight, getting a ride in 50 balloons from the airport.

Gates open at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Find the full schedule online.

This week in your North Country Report:

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