What once began as a Vernon Winter Carnival tradition has morphed into something more.
The hot air balloon show’s departure from Carnival to form the North Okanagan Hot Air Balloon Society in 2016 opened the doors for further opportunities, secretary Cindy Brassard said. However, with those possibilities come other complications, primarily that of funding.
To bring further awareness of the Society’s departure from the Carnival to the forefront and raise money for the annual event in the process, the North Okanagan Hot Air Balloon Society and the Village Green Hotel are hosting a fundraiser Oct. 19.
“A lot of people still think we’re part of the Carnival,” Brassard said, adding that some falsely assume when they donate to the Carnival Society a portion of the proceeds goes towards the hot air balloon event.
Brassard said, apart from funding from key sponsors Great West Equipment, Lordco, Vernon Tourism and support from media sponsors SunFM and The Village Green Hotel, the Society’s funds are generated primarily through members’ efforts.
“People don’t understand they’re not getting their funds from an organization. That’s why we wanted to put this on,” said Peter Kaz, Village Green Hotel marketing manager. “I just found out about this. That’s why I jumped on it.”
According to Brassard, it costs the Society an estimated $1,500 per balloon to run the annual event that marks the Vernon Winter Carnival calendar. This year, the Society anticipates a total of 15 balloons to partake in the festivities for the cost of about $22,500.
The Society fundraiser kicks off at 5 p.m. in the Village Green Hotel parking lot with a training session for potential future ground crew volunteers before transitioning into a balloon glow at 6 p.m. featuring two hot air balloons. The party starts inside The Green Pub, attached to the hotel, at 7 p.m. with a $20 burger and beer special and a silent auction, the prizes for which include a hot air balloon ride for two during the Carnival event in February, air conditioning and water heater upgrades and more.
Tim Reardon of The Young’Uns fame will take the stage with his rock and dance band #POUNDSIGN at 9 p.m. after the auction winners are announced.
North Okanagan Hot Air Balloon Society memberships will be available for $10.
“Just come, support us and enjoy yourself,” Brassard smiled. “I would like to see Vernon become a destination for hot air balloons.”