“Hot air ballooning and Colorado Springs just go together,” says Scott Appleman, Labor Day Lift Off manager.

Colorado’s largest balloon event returns to Memorial Park this Labor Day weekend . Nearly 80 exciting balloons will be available to observe, ride and collect trading cards about. This year’s balloon theme is animals , so new members to the festival include a snowbird and cartoon frog.

Appleman says, “This is a complete family friendly event, and that’s what we really want to bring across to the community. We believe there’s something for everyone 1 year old up to 100 years old. They can come out to a free event, have a great time and get to experience something new.”

Sky-based performances aren’t just limited to the balloons. The Wings of Blue parachute team from the Air Force Academy will perform Saturday and Sunday morning. On Monday, the Warbirds of the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show will fly over the park in celebration of Military Appreciation Day.

What's new at this year's Labor Day Lift Off balloon festival

On the ground, the Dunkin’ Donut Eating Contest challenges participants to stretch their stomachs. If competitive eating isn’t your thing, there are close to 60 vendors offering traditional fair food in traditional portions. Budweiser is sponsoring a beer and mimosa garden, and live entertainment will be available throughout the park. Bad Axe Throwing will be on site with demonstrations and an ax-throwing booth, where people can try their hand at the sport for a small fee.

“This is a free event to the public, and that just doesn’t happen these days. That’s the result of the Colorado Springs government and the city of Colorado Springs. It’s just one of those things that they want to keep going,” says Appleman. “The support of the community, the government, the balloonists, the crew and the volunteers is just overwhelming.”

Kate Powell, The Gazette, kate.powell@gazette.com

Kate Powell is a recent graduate from the University of Denver, having studied Journalism and Socio-Legal Studies. She self identifies as a writer and a pet mom, and joined the Gazette Features staff in 2019.

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