ASHLAND -- The 30th annual Ashland BalloonFest has been canceled and rescheduled until next year, according to a media release issued Friday afternoon from the event planning committee's president Mindi White.
The popular event, which was originally set for the last weekend in June, will be postponed until June 24 through 27, 2021.
It will be replaced this year with what organizers are calling the Ashland Balloonfest's "29 1/2 Flyover" on the evening of Saturday, June 27 and the morning of Sunday, June 28.
"Now more than ever, given the reality of COVID-19, our highest priority is the health and safety of our guests, participants, staff, volunteers and community," White said.
The committee considered postponing to later this summer, but because other ballooning events are planned across the region, it would have been challenging to attract those who bring the balloons to the festival, White said.
Further, it appears unlikely the event could have gone on as "usual." While some of the pandemic-related restrictions are beginning to ease, the conditions remain too unpredictable to continue the event, she continued.
"There are still too many uncertainties to guarantee, without hesitation, the health and safety of our community and the thousands of people that gather at Freer Field for our event. We simply could not have the same event that our community and sponsors have come to expect and enjoy," White said.
In an effort to "give back," the committee determined it could use its own funds to arrange the flyover.
"We felt like if there was something we could do to give back, we wanted to do it, so we put our heads together," White said. "We'll have balloons in the air."
She hopes to secure 15 to 20 balloon pilots from Ohio and the surrounding region. The balloons will flyover Ashland both Saturday evening and Sunday morning, weather-permitting.
The Ashland BalloonFest committee thanked sponsors, volunteers, pilots and community for their support. Sponsors have been contacted and offered refunds or the opportunity to redirect their funding towards next year's event.
"We are excited for our 30th celebration and committed to making it even better than ever," White said.