A hot air balloon festival is an event that should be experienced at least once. Chances are, you will want to repeat the magic year after year. Described as “high flying family fun,” Ashland Balloon Fest hosts around 30 balloons each year, with a schedule that will not disappoint.
Come for the friendly competition between pilots and the balloon glow event that lights the skies to choreographed music. Tap your toes at the entertainment stage and watch the kids have a blast in the kids zone area. They can play bumper bubbles and knock each other down in fun, or play laser tag to burn off energy. Browse the merchant tents and stop at a food vendor for a locally influenced feast.
While in the area, visit Amish country, go birdwatching in a marshland park, or shop unique boutiques. There are several campgrounds in the area. Claim a spot for your RV as your home base and explore beautiful Ashland County, forest and farmland alike.
Ashland Balloon Fest is a free event, except for the Balloon Glow portion of the weekend. If you want to experience the entry on to the launch field to have a close-up view of the balloons as they are lit up, a family four-pass can be purchased for around $60 with additional tickets about $15 each. Visit www.ashlandohioballoonfest.com for information about the packed weekend schedule.
I-71 is the route that may take you to the Ashland Balloon Fest, with US-42 and US-250 bringing you from some areas of Ohio. Enjoy the rural beauty as you approach Ashland. Download the OHGO app for road alerts and traffic delays and tune into the local radio station to keep abreast of the weather. Watch for signage pointing to the parking area as you approach the event.
Parking is a bargain, right beside the event. There are two additional lots in close proximity. Attendance the past few years has increased, so if you want a spot beside the launch field, head to the event early. There is a walking perimeter around the entire field, making entrance from any of the lots a simple affair. There is a shuttle from the ADA parking area if anyone in your party is in need.
Ashland has a transit system that requires calling ahead for a ride, but there are also taxi services available that can take festival-goers to the launch field. If you do not have a tow vehicle and do not want to maneuver your rig in the event parking lot, consider these options.
Ashland Balloon Fest does not have camping at the event. However, the areas surrounding this quaint town are well worth exploring, and for that reason, a nearby campsite is a good choice. Visit West Salem, Wellington, Perrysville and more for a variety of options.
Drive less than 25 miles to gain access to full service and spacious sites. If lakeside camping is your ideal option, that is not hard to find in this area of the state. Partake in a peaceful canoe excursion or try your hand at fishing. The kids will appreciate a beach or pool and will be thrilled when they see the mini-putt. Within an hour's drive, in several directions, even more options may begin to register on your list of camping options in Northern Ohio.
The terrain of the festival is uneven, grassy ground. Strollers and wheelchairs may require extra arm power in the event that inclement weather makes the field muddy or the grass slippery. Wear comfy shoes. Sometimes, rubber boots are the best idea if you plan to attend the early morning launch. The dew in the field can make for wet feet all day.
Pleasant weather is often the name of the game for the Ashland Balloon Fest. Airy clothing that washes easily is ideal. Bouncy game jumping, running around the fields, and sampling sticky and sometimes messy vendor treats makes for apparel that is a cinch to clean when back home. Sun hats are a must, and throw an umbrella and sweater in each backpack just in case the weather turns cool or wet.
A stress-free camping trip always starts with an organized supplies list. Clothing, extra towels, rain gear, and games for the kids are essential items. Campground gear includes flashlights for evening walks to gaze at the stars from the campground’s best vantage point. Pots, pans, dishes, and utensils in high supply allow for quick tasks in the galley and the ability to cook whatever takes your fancy.
Sunscreen and bug spray are two items that cannot be left at home. Apply both before heading out on an exploration to look for frogs and pollywogs. Leave the creatures in their natural habitat, however, and take fun photos instead. Remember food safety at camp and ensure that food is kept at an appropriate temperature at all times. Keep the cooler well stocked with ice.
Fresh air is sure to build appetites. Pancakes taste the best on the camp stove for a tasty start to the day. In the evening, go for simple meals like sweet potato fries roasted over a foil-lined grill accompanied by barbecued chicken strips. Stock up on charcoal briquets and top up the RV propane to be prepared for any meal.
Visit a brewery or pub for a relaxing end to the day. Or choose Chinese or Mexican for a taste bud treat. Grab a pizza to take back to the campsite picnic table or spoil the kids with their favorite fast food meal. Finish the evening off with a delectable dessert or a refreshing ice cream cone.
Have cash on hand in case the vendors do not accept debit or credit because the variety of merchandise is a big part of the event. With two concession areas and a large merchandise section, shopping while taking a break in the shade could keep you busy for a few hours. Local goods, home care items, and hot air balloon memorabilia make for fun shopping.
Remind the kiddos to stay close while amongst the crowds. Keep clear of tether lines and balloon fabric while walking about the grounds. Volunteers are on hand in the event you have a concern. At camp, keep valuables locked in the RV or car trunk, locking the doors each time you leave. If you are camping in a wilderness area, store food safely so as not to attract wildlife.
Be prepared for all weather events and although the aim of the festival is to see the balloons in flight, the conditions have a lot to do with whether the balloons can take off as scheduled. Wind direction, wind speed, and incoming weather disturbances play a part. There is plenty to do no matter what the weather; pack umbrellas and rain gear just in case.
Camping means cuts, bruises, and scratches when you have an active, on the go family. Before leaving home, top up medical supplies like antibiotic creams and after-sun sprays. While pharmacy services are available within a 10-minute drive of the event, it is often easiest to have a few items on hand. Check the expiration dates on food items and add extra band-aids to the first aid kit. Store items out of the reach of little ones.