Photos: 9th annual Kiwanis Indiana Balloon Fest continues Saturday, Sunday

Hot air balloons filled the horizon on Friday afternoon and evening at the Monroe County fairgrounds.

The 9th annual Kiwanis Indiana Balloon Fest continues Saturday and Sunday.

The balloon fest’s Facebook page includes a complete list of activities—helicopter rides, giant kites, woodcarving, marionettes, carnival games, ice cream, fried pies, elephant ears, food truck fare, and hot air balloons!

On Friday night, Indianapolis-based funk band, The Indigos belted out “Love Shack” by The B-52’s among other favorites, in front of Tweety Bird and Sylvester-shaped hot air balloons. On Saturday it will be The Acre Brothers who entertain the crowd.

More photos after the jump. Continue reading “Photos: 9th annual Kiwanis Indiana Balloon Fest continues Saturday, Sunday”

Opinion | Flying, falling pumpkins: A perfect pandemic pick-me-up

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On Saturday starting at noon, a few dozen pumpkins were sent flying several hundred feet down the field at the Monroe County fairgrounds.

The grass expanse, littered with shards of busted orange gourds, marked the return of Pumpkin Launch, hosted by the city of Bloomington’s parks and recreation department.

Four teams competed on Saturday—three with trebuchet-style launchers and a fourth with a sling-shot powered device.

The long-running event was rained out last year. Saturday’s skies started off overcast, but rain was never a threat. And by early afternoon, the sun had started to nudge the temperature upward from 50 F degrees. The wind was blowing out of the northeast at around 10 mph, so it was a brisk but still pleasant day.

The mark of the COVID-19 pandemic on this year’s event was clear. Orange pumpkin-shaped social distancing “circles”—complete with a green stem—were painted out in the spectator area to keep groups of people spread out. Instructions from the event staff were clear: If you go outside your group’s pumpkin circle, make sure you’re wearing a mask.

The number of cars was limited to 75 to keep the crowd size down.

Scoring for the day’s effort was strictly objective.

Distances—from the pumpkin launchers to the point of impact and from there to the targets—were measured with a GPS device. An old-fashioned measuring wheel was pressed into service when the more modern gadget fritzed out briefly.

In the day’s earlier of the two sessions, the first effort from Tetanus Express measured out at 903 feet, the longest launch for that round.

Also, objectively scored, Pumpkin Launch was great fun.

The parks and recreation staff who put the event together, which included community coordinators Sarah Owen and Bill Ream, delivered a couple of hours of pure delight and refreshing distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading “Opinion | Flying, falling pumpkins: A perfect pandemic pick-me-up”