The board of directors of the Adirondack Balloon Festival has announced the cancelation of this year’s event due to restrictions involving the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board “is disappointed” to lose the popular festival that was slated for Sept. 17- 20, it said in a new release.
“The most important part in planning in an event of this magnitude is safety. Safety is not only for our balloon pilots, but also includes our spectators, law enforcement, public works, fire and rescue staff, vendors, volunteers, musical acts, and our landowners in the region,” said Mark Donahue, board president.
“This is an unprecedented decision for us and one we did not take lightly. Our decision process included discussions with state officials and the Federal Aviation Administration officials as well,” he said. “This event is for the community by the community. We have a responsibility to make certain social distancing occurs and we do not feel we could make that happen with the tens of thousands of people who attend our event.”
It takes at least six months to plan the balloon festival, and organizers were already three months behind in planning because of the pandemic, Donahue said.
In addition, the board felt it was inappropriate to ask local businesses for support “when they are struggling to reopen or survive. Putting the event on pause for a year will help us to come back in 2021 and have guidelines established by New York state in place for events of our magnitude to provide a safe, enjoyable event for all to enjoy,” said Donahue.
The state requires a mass gathering permit from the Department of Health for the event. The organizers don’t have enough information from the state to hold the event, he said. The necessities—ordering tents and getting balloonists to commit—cannot be done in short order.
The balloon festival draws day trippers and overnight visitors who stay in area hotels and motels. Business is brisk for local establishments
“The loss of the festival will be felt not only in the economic impact it brings our region, but in the sense of community that it fosters,”
The board is already looking ahead to 2021, he noted.
“With funding being a serious concern for the future, the festival hopes to embark on some fundraising activities this fall to help support 2021.”
The dates for the 2021 Adirondack Balloon Festival are Sept. 23-26.