by William Crum
The Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County was host to this year’s Midwest Balloon Festival. This past weekend was the festival’s first time at the Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County.
“Normally we get roughly 35,000 to 40,000 people at the festival, this is our first year at the Kansas Speedway, which we are really excited about,” said Sean Burns, coordinator for the Midwest Balloon Festival.
What is unique about this festival is that there were a lot of volunteers to staff the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to local civic organizations, making this event very beneficial to the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area.
At Friday night’s event, the marching dance team and band from Washington High School participated, playing the national anthem. They received a standing ovation. A crowd of more than 500 people cheered as the marching dance team danced and the band played.
As dusk came about the balloons became lit on fire in a “balloon glow.” The crowd applauded as the balloons lit up with color, making this event a truly memorable experience.
On Saturday night, Josh Smith showed up to play the saxophone. Smith is a 2013 graduate of Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan. Smith has been playing the saxophone for seven years. His idol is the legendary Charlie Parker, who was born in Kansas City, Kan.
“I decided to play the saxophone mainly because the saxophone has soul. The saxophone was meant for me. I really enjoy playing the saxophone,” Smith said.
Smith’s track record speaks for itself; on Monday nights he plays at Hayward’s Barbecue and has played at the legendary Blue Room in the jazz district of Kansas City, Mo.
Smith is an Eagle Scout. He will attend Ottawa University this fall to study music. Last Saturday night he played the national anthem before a crowd of more than 1,000 people. As he played the audience was in awe and amazement, in fact a lot of people were saying he is the next Charlie Parker. After he played, a lot of people from the audience came up just to shake his hand.
As dusk came about, the balloons lit up again showing their colors, making Saturday as well as Friday a memorable event. The festival continued on Sunday, when weather interfered with the balloon launch, but entertainment continued.
To see more photos of the Midwest Balloon Festival, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/up-up-and-away/