7 things that will wow you this weekend at hot air balloon festival

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 1:00 PM

Timelapse from Ohio Challenge in Middletown Saturday morning.

Prepare to be wowed.

A giant crab and a giant gator will be among the more than 30 balloons that are set to take flight during The Ohio Challenge Balloon Festival and Team Fastrax Warrior Weekend to Remember. The annual event will return to Middletown’s Smith Park/Middletown Regional Airport this weekend.

“This is a good, positive event for the city. Everyone loves to see the balloons. There’s always that ‘Wow’ factor. Spectators often wonder ‘How did they get up there?’ ‘How do they stay up there?’ and they follow them. It’s so cool,” said Kathy Stites, event manager, The Ohio Challenge.

>> Watch time-lapse video of these balloons inflating and taking flight

The Gator is one of the special balloons that will be featured at the Ohio Challenge hot air balloon festival this weekend in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

Presented by Selection.com, the event runs Friday, July 21 and Saturday, July 22 from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for the full festival including balloon competitions and balloon glows, fireworks, skydiving demonstrations, a laser light show, tethered balloon rides and live entertainment. There will also be carnival rides for children from Murray Brothers Amusements, Inc., expanded food booth offerings as well as 25 arts and crafts vendors on site.

Balloon activity only will continue the morning of Sunday, July 23 (no festival activity).

This is the 15th year for the festival, which has grown into one of the area’s largest, signature summer events. More than 300 volunteers come together to support the festivities. Organizers said about 55,000 guests attended the festival last year.

Here are 7 things to do, see and experience at The Ohio Challenge:

Competition balloons decorate the sky during the Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival at Smith Park in Middletown in 2016. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Contributing Writer)

1. Hot air balloon launches, rides and competition

Check out launches of colorful balloons of all shapes and sizes.

Mass balloon launches and special shapes will take to the skies on Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Beyond the visual spectacle of bright colorful balloons in the sky, The Ohio Challenge is a sanctioned hot air balloon competition. This year 30 participants will compete for the Ohio Challenge Trophy and to qualify for a national tournament.

This little lady walks on a partially inflated balloon during the Fluff & Puff event at the 2016 Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Contributing Writer)

Experience the fun yourself with tethered hot air balloon rides for $10 and $15 or try out the Fluff & Puff balloon walk-through as well.

Call 513-932-3552 to arrange full paid rides.

All balloon activity is wind and weather permitting. Admission to the park is free during morning hours for those that would like to see the Saturday and Sunday morning balloon flights.

>> PHOTOS: Ohio Hot Air Balloon Challenge 2016

Claw D — The Crazy Crab piloted by Zach Burgess of Monroe will be one of the special balloons featured at this year’s Ohio Challenge. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

2. Night balloon glow

Balloons can look even more amazing at night. This year’s balloon glows will take place Friday and Saturday from 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.

3. Fireworks

A fireworks display sponsored by Start Skydiving will start around 10 p.m. Saturday. There will also be fireworks and a laser light show Friday night.

4. Skydiving

Team Fastrax skydiving performances will take place at 5:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Friday and again at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday.

Rides are part of the fun at the Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival. These festival-goers were photographed during the 2016 event at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Contributing Writer)

5. Festival fun

Beyond the balloons, you’ll find plenty of family fun all weekend long.

The event will include outdoor concerts, arts and crafts, festival foods and carnival rides.

“There’s so much to do. There’s a little something for everybody. It’s a good family-oriented festival in the park. There’s a lot of good food, and a lot of great vendors. It’s a good place to be,” said Sean Askren, a Middletown resident, pilot committee member and FAA liaison.

This is one of the special balloons that will be featured at the Ohio Challenge hot air balloon festival this weekend in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

There will be live music on Friday night with The Good Hooks and on Saturday evening featuring The Slyband from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Main Stage activities, including opening remarks and the National Anthem, will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. A Wounded Warrior Honoring Ceremony, recognizing Purple Hearts and Gold Stars will be held on Saturday from 7-8 p.m.

For a complete list of events and activities, go to www.ohiochallenge.com.

>> 7 festivals to add to your summer bucket list

Competition balloons fly over Hook Field during the 2016 Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Contributing Writer)

6. Car show

A car show will benefit the Research for GIST Cancer (stomach cancer). The show featuring 125-150 cars will be held on Saturday from 4 p.m.- 8 p.m. Registration for the car show is 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Cost to register is $15. Awards will be presented.

7. “Ready Teddy” drop

One new feature of the festival this year is Middletown Community Foundation’s “Ready Teddy” drop.

T. Duane Gordon, executive director, Middletown Community Foundation, a secondary sponsor of the event since its inception, said the “Ready Teddy” drop will support the organization’s “Ready” initiative, which raises money for education in the community.

“One of the ways we’re raising money is selling little teddy bears of Ready Teddy, and every person who buys a bear is entered into a contest to win several prizes, including some vacations that have been donated to the Foundation by Pierson Automotive. We will be putting every entrant’s ID number onto little plastic bears, and around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, if the winds cooperate, Ready Teddy himself (the full-sized Ready Teddy) will be going up in a balloon with the little plastic bears to drop them toward a target. So, everyone will get to see them fall from the sky. The 10 bears that are closest to the target will win the 10 prizes we are giving away,” Gordon said.

>> Interactive summer festival guide

Want to go?

WHAT: The Ohio Challenge Balloon and Festival Team Fastrax Warrior Weekend to Remember

WHEN: Friday, July 21 through Sunday, July 23. The festival is open 4-10:30 p.m. Friday and 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday and 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday. Balloon activity only from 7-9:30 a.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave and Verity Parkway in Middletown

ADMISSION: During regular evening festival hours, walk-in admission is $4 per adult (children ages 12 and under are free), $10 per vehicle to park and ride a shuttle or $20 per vehilce to park on site. Handicapped parking is available for $10 inside Smith Park with a valid permit (see parking attendant). Vehicles should enter the festival grounds via Middletown Regional Airport, 1800 Germantown Road.

MORE INFO: www.ohiochallenge.comwww.warriorwtr.com

Hot air balloons are inflated for attendees to get a closer look during the Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival at Smith Park in Middletown in 2016. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Contributing Writer)

How one of Dayton's biggest dinner parties of the year came to be

Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 @ 12:00 AM

In 1969 Arthur Beerman hosted the largest dinner party the city had ever seen: a turkey feast. It was the first Beerman Annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

In 1969 Arthur Beerman hosted the largest dinner party the city had ever seen: a turkey feast.

 

It was the first Beerman Annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

The first Beerman Thanksgiving dinner for the community was held in 1969 at Wampler Ballarena.. DAYTON DAILY NEWS FILE
 

The founder of Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. had suffered a heart attack earlier that year and received mountains of cards from well-wishers. He returned thanks by starting what became one of Dayton’s most endearing traditions. He put Jeanne Betty Weiner in charge.

 

Beerman had just been discharged from the hospital when Weiner got tasked with the job.

Jeanne Betty Weiner, pictured in 2007, carried out Arthur Beerman's vision to throw a dinner party for the "hungry, the lonely and the needy." DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE(Contributed photo)
 

He told her: “You are the only person crazy enough to do what I want,” said Weiner in a 2015 interview, then the store’s radio and television spokeswoman.

 

>>> PHOTOS: Beerman Annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner through the years

 

Weiner got little instruction beyond that the dinner had to be the same as the one Beerman enjoyed at his own house on Thanksgiving.

 

Weiner, who now lives in Sarasota, Florida, said she told Beerman she would be happy to orchestrate his dinner for the “hungry, the lonely and the needy.”

 

She found a caterer who would cook the food, arranged to have the event held at Wampler’s Ball-Arena and found musicians who donated their talent to perform big band music on the holiday. “I wanted it to be a fun party,” she said.

Denise Kelly and her daughter Arlane, 4, and nephews Jamahl and Avon Stokes enjoy the 1990 Beerman Thanksgiving dinner. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
 

More than 3,000 people attended that first year. School buses picked up the guests in downtown Dayton and drove them to the event where they were welcomed by volunteers. “They were greeted just like they were coming into someone’s home,” said Weiner.

 

More than 1,300 pounds of turkey, 500 pies, 90 gallons of gravy and 90 steam pans of dressing were served that first year. Clowns entertained the children and folks danced to the Hal Harris band.

 

“It hit the national news,” said Weiner. “There was nothing like it in the country. Someone giving a private party for thousands of people was just an amazing thing,” she said.

 

“The dinner was delicious and the music was wonderful,” she said. “It was what he wanted it to be — a good party.

In 1977, Bertha Allen, 88, said she had attended all nine of the Beerman Thanksgiving dinners to date. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
 

Beerman told Weiner he would continue the Thanksgiving dinner and wanted it to grow. He died the next year but his family and The Beerman Foundation kept the tradition going.

 

In 1988 organizers moved the event to the convention center downtown to reach more people in need. In 2008 the foundation ended the observance after serving more than 200,000 turkey dinners in 40 years.

 

The annual feast found new sponsorship the following year. In recent years volunteers served at each event more than 8,000 guests 2,800 pounds of turkey, one ton each of potatoes, green beans and stuffing and 1,000 sliced pies.

 
“Every Thanksgiving I still think about what a wonderful thing the dinner is. I think it’s remarkable it is still continued today,” said Weiner. “I still think of it as mine and Arthur’s wonderful party.”
 

This weekend is your last chance to go to the Ohio Renaissance Festival

Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 @ 2:11 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 @ 4:09 PM

Nothing beats a summer festival - and Dayton has more than you could ever dream. Here's 10 of the best ones you won't want to miss. (Tabatha Wharton)

It’s an annual festival tradition you have to experience at least once.

This festival will transport you back to the 16th Century in an English village with knights, jousts, swordsmen, pirates, nobles, peasants and jugglers walking past you in timely costumes. 

>> RELATED: 6 of the craziest things you'll see at Ohio Renaissance Festival

The 28th annual Ohio Renaissance Festival runs Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday for nine weekends — Sept. 2 through Oct. 29.

Here are 5 things to know about the Renaissance Festival:

Scenes from the Ohio Renaissance Festival, which features 14 stages of entertainment. CONTRIBUTED

1. FUN THEMED WEEKENDS

This 30-acre permanent village has been authentically and historically re-created in the flavor of 16th Century England and has special promotions each weekend.

9/2, 9/3 & 9/4 — Family & Friends Weekend 

Adults are two for the price of one, plus all kids 12 and under get in free Saturday, Sunday, and Labor Day.

9/9 & 9/10 — Time Travelers Weekend 

Dress as your favorite character inspired by a movie, TV series, comic book, sci-fi or fantasy work. Costume contests for adults and kids.

9/16 & 9/17 — Pirates Weekend 

Celebrate International Talk like a Pirate Day with a Pirate Stunt Show, Pirate Play Time and Talk like a Pirate contests (for adults and kids). 

9/23 & 9/24 — Barbarian Invasion Weekend 

Rowdy contests in true barbaric fashion await. Compete in the Test of Strength Contest or the Turkey Leg Eating Contest. 

9/30 & 10/1 — Feast of Fools Weekend 

Fools Olympics and King of Fools contests and more.

10/7 & 10/8 — Highland Weekend 

Grab your kilts and join the village in celebrating Highland heritage as villagers host special events including a Haggis Eating Contest, Knobby Knees Contest, and a traditional Highland Games competition. 

10/14 & 10/15 — Fantasy Weekend 

The Witches of Willy Nilly and the fairies will enchant the village. Enter the Fantasy Costume Contest. 

10/21 & 10/22 — Romance Weekend 

Men in tights? Ladies in bloomers? Oh and you can renew your wedding vows in a free Mass Renewal of Vows Ceremony held at St. Peter’s Chapel. 

10/28 & 10/29 — Tricks or Treats Weekend 

Wear your costumes and bring the little ones for trick or treating around the village. Costume contests for adults and kids and pumpkin decorating for the kids.

>> Festivals we cannot wait for

Dirk and Guido, a.k.a. The Swordsmen, will instruct families on how to impale people like a proper gentleman at the 2017 Ohio Renaissance Festival, opening on Sept. 2. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

 

2. ENTERTAINMENT

There is plenty to see on 14 stages offering plenty of entertainment. Don’t miss the hard-hitting action as the Knights of Valour joust three times each day. Comedy and swordplay mesh as The Swordsmen showcase sharp skills and sharp wit. The 65-foot Galleon features a Pirate Comedy Stunt Show twice each day. Strolling musicians include Dylan Robertson, Glass Harmonica, The Flying Dulcimer, Kyle Meadows, Captain John Stout while many a good pub song will be heard in the village pubs.

The festival also offers thrilling human-powered rides, games of skill, warhorse rides, camel rides, the Amazing Maze, and the Tower of London Dungeon of Doom. 

>> Interactive festival guide

3. SHOPPING

The marketplace offers handmade wares including unique items created by world-class artisans. Witness demonstrations of time-honored crafts including glassblowing, blacksmithing, forging, leather tooling, weaving, boot making and more. New to the marketplace this year are original artist Art of Ed Beard Jr, pewter creations by Heekin Pewter and the beautiful floral garlands from The Royal Garland.

Big Turkey legs are only part of the great food found at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

4. FOOD

Festival favorites such as giant roasted turkey legs, steak-on-a-stake and bread bowl soups and stews can be found as well as delicious new items. The Chocolate Raven features handmade chocolates and fudge. Archibald Drake’s features an ages old Fish and Chips recipe. KJ’s Cajun Cuisine will have a menu from across the pond and down south. Wash it all down with a wide variety of beers, ales, wines, soft drinks, coffees and teas.

>> Must-try foods at the Ohio Renaissance Festival

5. GROWN-UP FUN

The festival offers daily special events for those 21 and over. The Naughty Bawdy Pub Show features songs and limericks you won’t hear on the streets in an hour-long show. New this year, test your memory and play Willy Nilly Trivia during the Pub Crawl.

WANT TO GO?

What: Ohio Renaissance Festival

When: Sept. 2-Oct. 29 for nine weekends – Saturdays, Sundays & Labor Day

Where: Renaissance Park in Harveysburg. Located just minutes off I-71, exit 45 or I-75, exit 38 on State Route 73 in Warren County.

Cost: Tickets: Adults $22.50; Children $9.50 (ages 5-12); Children under 5 free.

More info: WebsiteFacebook

5 things to know about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 @ 3:27 PM

Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade - 5 Fast Facts

There are a number of things associated with Thanksgiving− turkey, pilgrims, big dinners and family. One of them is the tradition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

RELATED: The least and most affordable places to spend your holiday vacation

Since 1924, Macy's has helped thousands of families celebrate the holidays with its annual parade. 

If you plan to travel to New York to see the spectacle for yourself this year or will be tuning in, here are five things to know about the parade:

Spider-Man at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.(Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Where is the parade route and where can I view it?

The parade steps off at 9 a.m. sharp from 77th Street and Central Park West and travels south. Once the procession hits Columbus Circle, it turns east onto Central Park South and marches until turning south again onto 6th Avenue. The parade continues south until reaching 34th Street, where it turns west and ends at 7th Avenue. The last of the balloons and performers touch 7th Avenue around noon.

(Macy’s)

While there is no seating available for the public, anyone is welcome to bring blankets or chairs and find a spot along the parade route at no charge. Since these spots are first-come, first-serve, some families camp out several hours before the parade begins. Plan to arrive early to snag good seats.

Many regular parade-goers recommend avoiding Macy's official parade viewing area on 34th Street, since it's the most crowded. One balloon handler on Reddit suggested that Columbus Circle also might not be a good viewing area, since the winds are more unpredictable and the procession moves more quickly through that spot. He added that the first few blocks south of 77th Street tend to attract smaller crowds because that street is farther from the train stations.

What is included in the parade procession?

In addition to more than two dozen inflated balloons, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade features floats, clowns, performers and marching bands from across the country. The Peanuts gang appear on their float, Snoopy's Doghouse, alongside McDonald's Big Red Shoe, Mount Rushmore, Winter Wonderland by Delta Airlines and more, including Macy's many floats.

Macy's website also lists the participating clown troupes with themes like Breakfast Clowns, Arrsome Pirates and Viking Clowns. Marching bands in the procession include several high schools and colleges, the U.S. Air Force, New York Police Department, and, of course, Macy's Great American Marching Band.

In addition to the parade procession, the event features performances that are held in the official Macy's viewing area on 34th Street. Check the Macy's website for updates to the lineup and more information on these performances.

The Harrison High School Marching Band from Kennesaw performed Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016 in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.(Jim Galloway / AJC)

Is Macy's unveiling anything special this year?

Among Macy's novelty balloons is a special tribute that deserves recognition. As a nod to the 70th anniversary of "Miracle on 34th Street," Macy's is recreating "Harold the Baseball Player," a balloon that was featured in the classic black-and-white film set in New York.

Though the original balloon appeared in full color during the 1946 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, the recreation is black, white and gray as a throwback to the movie, which was shot on location and featured the parade. 

Can I see the balloons outside of the parade?

All of the balloons are inflated on Wednesday, November 22, and the event is open to the public. Head to Central Park West between 77th Street and 81st Street, near the American Museum of Natural History.

The balloons are inflated between 3 and 10 p.m., but the bulk of them are done in the evening, so it's best to be late to this event.

What if I can't get to New York?

If you can't get to the Empire State for Thanksgiving, there are still plenty of ways to experience the parade in your pajamas. Watch the procession at 9 a.m. EST on NBC to see the balloons, floats and performers without fighting any crowds.

For a behind-the-scenes experience, Macy's has created a series of 360° videos that take the viewer on a tour of its parade studio. See the magic behind the Thanksgiving tradition and learn about how the balloons are made, from sketch to inflation.

5 reasons to do Halloween early at this spooktacular weekend festival

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

We visit the 5th Annual Fairborn Halloween Festival.

Celebrate Halloween a weekend early with this community celebration complete with a zombie walk, Witch’s Brew Beer Garden, parade and costume contests.

Here are 5 reasons to go to the Fairborn Halloween Festival Oct. 20-22.

1. NEW: Witch’s Brew Beer Garden and food trucks

New this year is the Witch’s Brew Beer Garden located in the 5/3 Commons area with Hairless Hare, Warped Wing and Heidelberg Distributors. The Witch’s Brew Beer Garden is open from 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There will be several food trucks/food vendors on site throughout the festival.

>> Halloween events for grown-ups

The 5th Annual Fairborn Halloween Festival ushered in the best of the spooky season on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22, 2016. The downtown area was decked out with creepy displays, with food vendors, rides and music filling a portion of Main Street. Costume contests, bands and performers were also a part of the two-day celebration.(Tom Gilliam)

2. SpooktackularParade and costume contest

The 61st Annual Spooktacular Parade will assemble at the Fairborn YMCA. Costume judging will take place from 6-7 p.m., with the parade proceeding from the “Y” at 7:30 p.m. on Kauffman Avenue and down Main Street to the festival’s main stage. Costume prizes will be awarded for different age groups for youth, plus categories of adult, family, animal, best couple and overall scariest. Trick-or-treat at the booths as well.

>> PHOTOS: Fairborn Halloween Festival 2016

3. Zombie Walk

Join in on a Zombie walk Saturday night. Walkers can pre-register at the Fairborn Chamber of Commerce until Thursday, Oct. 19, or can sign up at 5 p.m. on the day of the event at the Fairborn Senior Center. The cost to walk is $3 if already made-up and $6 to have your makeup done by a make-up artist. Beverages, face painting and “blood” splattering will be available at 5 p.m. The walk will begin at 9 p.m. and travel down Main Street to the front of the festival stage, where the zombies will dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The 5th Annual Fairborn Halloween Festival ushered in the best of the spooky season on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22, 2016. The downtown area was decked out with creepy displays, with food vendors, rides and music filling a portion of Main Street. Costume contests, bands and performers were also a part of the two-day celebration.(Tom Gilliam)

4. Fun and games

Amusement rides, games and crafts will take place Friday alongside the costume judging and parade. Saturday’s festivities start at 11 a.m. and include amusement rides, games, crafts, downtown shopping and food vendors. Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. is the perfect time for families and kids to visit the festival to enjoy amusement rides, downtown shopping, food vendors and crafts.

>> Halloween events for kids

5. Live music

On Friday, local band Beesly takes the stage from 9-11 p.m.

On Saturday, local country music performer Jenna Snow will perform at 3:30 p.m. Rock It 88 (’60s and ’70s rock) will perform at 5:30 p.m. Forsaken will perform classic rock starting at 8 p.m.

>> When is Beggars’ Night in your city?

THE SCHEDULE

Here is the complete schedule of events (subject to change)

FRIDAY, OCT. 20

4-11 p.m. — Amusement Rides

6-7:30 p.m. — Games, crafts and activities at YMCA

6-11 p.m. — Foy’s Haunted Museum

6-7 p.m. — Costume judging at YMCA

7:30 p.m. — Spooktacular Parade

9-11 p.m. — Local Band Beesly

SATURDAY, OCT. 21

11 a.m.-11 p.m. — Amusement rides

1:30-2 p.m. — Richens/Timm Academy of Irish Dance

3:30-4:30 p.m. — Jenna Snow

5:30-7 p.m. — Rock It 88

6-7 p.m. — Trick or Treat at the Booths

6-11 p.m. — Foy’s Haunted Museum

8-9:30 p.m. — Forsaken

9:30 p.m. — Zombie Walk

SUNDAY, OCT. 22

Noon-6 p.m. — Amusement rides

WANT TO GO?

What: 6th annual Fairborn Halloween Festival

When: Friday to Sunday, Oct. 20-22

Where: Downtown Fairborn

Cost: Free admission

More info:WebsiteFacebook