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Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival stock

Hot air balloons soar over Elko, kicking off the Ruby Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival in 2011.

Ross Andreson/Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — Elko’s fall sky is about to get more colorful with the advent of the Ruby Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival this weekend.

Thirty-four balloons will participate in the event, which technically begins Thursday, said Danny Alexander, president of Ruby Mountain Hot Air Inc.

On Thursday morning, balloon pilots will visit various elementary schools in Elko County with presentations about the history of ballooning, Alexander said.

Residents can look forward to the traditional Balloon Glow Friday evening at the Mountain View Park.

“As it gets dark, the balloons will stand up like big Chinese lanterns,” Alexander said.

The POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association will also host a chili fundraiser at Balloon Glow. The official POW/MIA hot air balloon will once again be a guest participant for the event.

While the festival largely remains the same as previous years, there will be a new activity.

“We’re going to conduct a photo contest of the balloon festival,” Alexander said. “Our judges will choose a first, second and third place winner.”

First place wins a $50 Chamber Check, second place gets a $30 Chamber Check, and third receives a $20 Chamber Check.

Fliers with information about the contest can be found throughout the festival, Alexander said.

“It’s open to all ages ... but you can’t be a professional photographer,” he said.

Festival Schedule:


7 a.m. – School visitation

4 p.m. – Mandatory pilot briefing at the Northeastern Nevada Museum

5 p.m. – Pilot and sponsor meet-and-greet at the museum

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7 a.m. – Pilots launch from the Spring Creek Sports Complex and various locations in Elko

6 p.m. – Balloon Glow at the Mountain View Park


7 a.m. Mass Ascension at the Spring Creek Sports Complex


7 a.m. Mass Ascension at the Spring Creek Sports Complex

10 a.m. Awards Brunch for pilots, crews and sponsors at Stockmen’s Hotel & Casino


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