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New Colorado Springs balloon event will offer variety

March 26, 2015 Updated: March 26, 2015 at 4:10 am
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Thousands filled Memorial Park to watch the second day of the Colorado Balloon Classic on Aug. 31, 2014. The new Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, which replaces the classic, is expecting to have much more than balloons. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

A wakeboarding exhibition, beer garden and a food truck competition could join hot air balloons at Memorial Park this Labor Day weekend.

Scott Appelman, organizer of the inaugural Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, said those attractions and others are being considered as part of the new version of the festival to be held Sept. 5-7.

"The balloons are great, but there are those days when Mother Nature takes over," he said. "We need to have something for the people to hang out and do. It's Labor Day weekend. It's a community event."

Appelman pitched the ideas at a meeting Wednesday to about four dozen potential sponsors for the festival set to replace the Colorado Balloon Classic, which celebrated its 38th event in the city last year.

On Aug. 15, the organization behind the Balloon Classic announced the 2014 Labor Day festival would be its last in Colorado Springs. Appelman's Hot Apple Productions company was selected to replace the Balloon Classic in January, after a request for proposal process that included five applications. Appelman's was the only plan that included hot air balloons.

Hot Apple Productions announced last week that it is partnering with the nonprofit Colorado Springs Sports Corp. to help with the planning effort, and Wednesday was the first formal opportunity to showcase their partnership.

Tom Osborne, president and CEO of Sports Corp., said his organization would help Appelman connect with sponsors and with event logistics.

"We're thrilled to be a part of it," Osborne said.

Appelman said that in addition to bringing in new entertainment opportunities and amenities to the event, he expects close to 75 hot air balloons to participate and there will be balloon glows for the festival's Saturday and Sunday evening schedules.

"We're going to ramp this up a bit," he said.

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Contact Stephen Hobbs: 636-0275

Twitter @bystephenhobbs

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