A weekend of festivals prepares for take off!

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Thirty Balloons and Three Shape Balloons Scheduled for 2015 Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival

GONZALES – Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez and the Ascension Festivals and Culture Council, Inc. have announced that 30 balloons from across the country will be joined by three special shape balloons at the 2015 Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival slated for Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, Gonzales.

     “This year we’ll have the crab balloon, the bird balloon and the cat balloon as our special shape balloons,” said Robert Ambeau, festival committee member and head of flight operations. “The kids should get a real kick out of seeing these balloons light up.”

     Ambeau said hot air balloon tethered rides will begin about 4 p.m. each day. Rides will be $20 per adult (13 and older) and $10 per child (12 years and younger). Balloon glows will begin at sunset.

     The festival will kick off on Friday morning, Sept. 25 with a sunrise media flight at Lamar-Dixon. Area media personalities, along with balloon sponsors, will get the chance to lift off for a short flight on the festival grounds.

     The first balloon competition flight will lift off on Saturday at 7 a.m. with the main target located in the “heart” of Ascension Parish, Ambeau said.

     “The target will be Central Primary School on La. 621 so parish residents should see the incoming balloons shortly after 7 a.m.,” Ambeau said. “To make things more interesting, as the balloons approach the target, a balloon will lift off from that location enticing a chase challenge to the other balloons like a fox and the hounds.”

     75 to 80 percent of the pilots participating are returning to the festival.

     “They like coming down here because of our comradery, the Cajun people and their food,” Ambeau said.

     Festival officials said a ballooning scene will be set up near the Trade Mart Building at Lamar Dixon so patrons may take photos of themselves sitting in a balloon basket with scenery in the background.

     Ambeau said the balloon glows and tethered rides will take place pending safe weather conditions. Windy conditions may warrant suspension of the tethered rides and glows.

     Last year’s festival experienced that type of scenario. A balloon being used for tethered rides was in its resting position between rides when a strong wind came up and picked up the balloon, prompting crew members to tie the balloon down and cancel flights.

     “You have to watch the winds and make sure the winds are calm enough to put the balloon up,” Ambeau said. “If it’s too breezy, you have to wait for the winds to die down. It’s all about safety first. And when a balloon is seven stories tall, it catches a lot of wind.”

     Admission to the festival is $5 for ages 13 and older, and free for children age 12 and younger on each day. Organizers said that they encourage festival goers to bring their own chairs, but ice chests, bicycles, personal motorized vehicles and pets are prohibited. Bags, backpacks, strollers and wagons may be subject to security checks to ensure patron safety.


Festival Latino to be held Sunday 

BATON ROUGE – The Hispanic Apostolate is presenting the 29th edition of its main fundraising event, the Latin Festival.   The Latin Festival will be celebrated at the Baton Rouge State Fairgrounds on 17200 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge.

On Sept. 27, the Latin Festival will be featuring entertainment, food from the different Latin American countries, crafts and vendor booths, activities for children, and more.

Entertainment will be provided by DJ Chily, Mariachi Jalisco, Manzanota (Rock in Spanish), “Los jugadores” (Cumbia flow), “Group Revelado” (Norteño), the Ballet folklorico Mi Tierra”.

The Festival will close with international Dominican singer and band leader of merengue and salsa “Johnny Ventura” performing his world recognized hit “Patacon pisao”

The Festival will offer a variety of dishes from different countries, like tallarines saltados (Peruvian lo mein), tray paisa (Colombia), Mexican tamales and tacos and the famous pupusas from Salvador, carne asada and to top it off, a variety of traditional Latin dishes and desserts.

Activities for the children will include games, contests, magician show and other surprises.

The Latin Festival is entirely manned by volunteers, and all the funds raised are used to maintain the Hispanic Center and the different ministries, such as ESL (English as a second language ) classes, immigration services, assistance to the needy, etc. or call (225) 927-8700