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Balloonists travel from all over the Midwest for the Taste N Glow Balloon Fest

STETTIN, Wis. (WSAW) – Balloons are back for the 2022 Taste N Glow Balloon Fest.

The festival will have over 30 food vendors and tons of family events to check out, but the main event is the over 40 hot air balloons flying high. The Taste and Glow Balloon Festival started coloring the skies last year. The event took over from the Balloon and Rib Fest which began in 2002.

“There will be food vendors and all kinds of things to do,” said Jim Phelan, a balloonist.

Balloonists from all over the Midwest come to Wausau to participate in the event.

“The balloons are going to be up and shining both nights,” Phelan said.

Jim Phelan is a balloonist who traveled from Illinois to Wausau for the festival. The name of his hot air balloon is “The Little One”.

“This year we decided we wanted to come back before we got too old and fly in this event and come back and see our friends again,” Phelan said.

Phelan said the best part of flying in Wisconsin is the landing zones.

“People are very, very nice to let us land wherever we are and take off on their property,” Phelan said.

He said the corn and soybean plants make it difficult to land in Illinois.

“But the grass here is so inviting,” Phelan said.

Phelan said the height of hot air balloons depends on how high you want to fly.

“Across the country, we could fly from 3 to 500 feet. In populated areas, we will be 1,000 feet off the ground,” Phelan said.

He said that to be a balloonist, you have to have interpersonal skills.

“Because we have a team that we work with all the time and we have to be able to work with the landowners when we land and the people we remove from their properties,” Phelan said.

Phelan said he enjoys sharing his ballooning knowledge with people at the festival.

“They can come to see the balloons and they come to see the pilots. We love talking to people, talking to kids and telling them what we’re doing,” Phelan said.

The Taste and Glow Balloons Fest starts tomorrow at 11 a.m. The cost to participate in the event is $1 or one pantry item. For more information on the event click here.

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