August 22, 2019

Presque Isle Fest draws balloon fans Rides part of a weekend of food, events

PRESQUE ISLE – The Presque Isle Chamber of Commerce is holding its second annual Isle Fest, a weekend of activities for children and for people interested in hot air balloons.

Seven large hot air balloons are in Aroostook County’s Star City for the weekend, including the Remax balloon out of Connecticut and the KFC Taco Bell balloon out of Ottawa, Ontario.

The first launch of the balloons was held Friday night. On Saturday, the balloons will be just outside the city at Westfield for that town’s centennial celebrations.

The launch at Westfield will be held at 6 a.m., weather permitting. Later on in the day, the Remax balloon will be available for tethered rides, which go up to 60 feet in the air.

Balloon rides on the regular flights are $175 per person. Tethered rides are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

“The focal point of the festival is the hot air balloons,” Allen Deeves, executive director of the Presque Isle Chamber of Commerce said Friday. “It’s an annual commemoration of the 1978 launch of the Double Eagle II from the city.

“The Double Eagle II was the first successful flight of a hot air balloon across the Atlantic Ocean and it originated in Presque Isle in 1978,” Deeves said. “It’s an important piece of Presque Isle history, and we want to preserve that.”

The launch from Presque Isle was 27 years ago.

The Isle Fest was formerly known as Pioneer Days at Presque Isle. It transitioned to the balloon weekend two years ago.

Last year they had three balloons for the weekend, and this year there are seven, from as far away as Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There are four launches from Friday to Sunday morning. Except for the Westfield launches, the Presque Isle flights are at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds. All the flights are weather permitting, calm winds and no rain.

On Sunday, people can meet the pilots of the hot air balloons at a breakfast at the Aroostook Shrine Building on the Route 1, just south of the business district.

Starting at noon Sunday, activities move to Main Street.

There will be a pet pageant and parade, karaoke, a battle of the bands, a concert, a car show, children’s games, a 5- and 10-kilometer walk challenge, a family bike tour, video games and food vendors until after 6 p.m.

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