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Balloon organizers hope to keep Blueberry Festival tradition alive

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PLYMOUTH, Ind. --- Michiana staple and 54-year-old fan favorite, Plymouth’s Blueberry Festival, was called off on Thursday due to coronavirus concerns.

Some organizers, however, are trying to keep the balloon tradition going, despite the festival cancelation.

From the delicious funnel cake, to carnival rides to the famous blueberry donuts, many look forward to the festival year after year.

“It’s something we’ve done for a very long time now here in the community and kind of sad not to see it,” balloon meister, Brian Kunze, said.

It is a four day event that usually brings in nearly 300,000 people. This year, Centennial Park will look much emptier as the fan favorite closed its doors on 2020 due to COVID-19.

The festival is not just all about the fireworks and vendors; hot air balloons are a big hit, both for the pilots competing and the public.

“And also to get the community involved and show everybody how awesome hot air balloons are,” Kunze said.

Marshall County’s Hot Air Fair team wants to keep the tradition going in some way, even if it looks a little different than usual, according to Kunze.

The team is hoping to get pilots together for a competition out in the park.

“And then after that do a balloon glow just like we would on a normal night for Blueberry,” Kunze said. “The balloon part of it itself is pretty easy to do with the community and keep people socially distant from what’s going on.”

Since not all parts of the festival fall under the guidance of the blueberry board, the Hot Air Affair team could still host the event, but one of the biggest roadblocks is funding, according to Kunze.

“But a lot of balloon pilots want to come anyway and enjoy our community without some of the sponsorship, that’ll help a lot,” Kunze said.

If the team can pull it all off, it could be a memorable night for all of the pilots and the community.

“So bringing the balloons back here and doing the balloon glow will bring a little bit of that normalcy back to people’s lives,” Kunze said.

The full Blueberry Festival is on the books for September 3-6, 2021.

As for the 2020 year, Hot Air Affair organizers are hoping that they will be able to put on a balloon extravaganza.

The team is still in the early stages of planning, but if all goes well, the community could catch the famous balloon park in Centennial Park once again come September.

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