Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair donations

(From left) London Bridge Rotary Club Membership Director Todd Brautigam, Balloon Festival Executive Director Steve Ticknor, Daybreakers Lions President Carole Muehlbauer, Lake Havasu City Rotary President Becky Goldberg, London Bridge Rotary President Shane Delaney, Sunrise Rotary President Niki Nickle, and Balloon Festival President Jim Day met on Tuesday morning at Pima Wash for the presentation of $5,000 checks.

While the cancellation of this year’s Havasu Balloon Festival did put a damper on donations, it didn’t dry them up completely.

The Balloon Festival typically raises about $150,000 each year, which is divided among several charity and nonprofit organizations in town — a huge bonus that club budgets can usually count on.

But pandemic concerns shut down this year’s event. So instead of forgoing fundraising altogether, the Balloon Festival organizers decided to do something different — a 5k run and golf tournament — to continue giving local charities a helping hand.

The two events netted about $20,000, according to Balloon Festival Board President Jim Day. On Tuesday morning, Day and Balloon Festival Executive Director Steve Ticknor distributed $5,000 checks to representatives of the local Lions and Rotary Clubs.

Sunrise Rotary Club President Niki Nickle said their club’s budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year was based on last year’s Balloon Fest distribution.

“Our club and board had decided to split the 2019 donation when deciding the budget to make them stretch into next year’s budget,” Nickle said, as a “worst case scenario.” They’ll be adding this $5,000 donation into that budget.

“Our club has been hard at work in fundraising to make sure that we are still distributing funds locally,” she added. “Next year’s board will soon be working on our 2021-2022 club budget, in which those funds will be allocated for distribution to local 501c-3s. Our fundraising efforts even during a pandemic, along with this $5,000 Balloon Fest distribution, will ensure that we are able to continue supporting local charities and projects.”

Becky Goldberg, president of the Lake Havasu City Rotary Club, said they generally have a large list of requests that they provide funding for, and they’re always looking for charities to help. But this year’s been a little different.

“We actually have not decided on any charities this year due to the lack of funds in general and our fundraising has been limited,” Goldberg explained. “We will, as a board, be looking at our list and requests prior to the end of the fiscal year in June. I hope to be able to do some type of smaller donation to charities on the list. We are also hosting a golf tournament on April 17 to help raise some additional funds to distribute this year.”

London Bridge Rotary Club President Shane Delanet said they’re “very well funded,” so they’ve been able to cover expenses for all of their projects and donate to others in need.

“The $5,000 will be spent next year by the new incoming president,” he said. “At this time, it is up to her on how the funds will be allocated, and her budget is not yet finalized. If anything, it may affect the spending in 2022-2023. Typically, the Balloon Festival proceeds fund multiple projects throughout our club.”


Photo: File art of previous balloon fest

Headline: Dates set for 2022 Balloon Festival

By Daisy Nelson

Today’s News-Herald

After a year without colorful balloons dotting Lake Havasu City’s January skies, Balloon Festival organizers are looking forward to next year’s event and already setting plans in motion.

The 2022 Balloon Festival will be held January 21 to January 23. The event will continue to feature balloon flights —weather permitting — on-the-ground entertainment, vendors, shows, food and more.

“We’ve got our dates set, so now, we’re mostly firming up our committee structure for next year, making sure we have all our committee chairs in place,” Balloon Festival Board President Jim Day said. “Beyond that, we have an election for our new officers of the board [which] will happen later this month. Some of the committee people will be updating our website, and we’ll be opening up for RV reservations. Things like that will be happening because people are already asking.”

As of now, there aren’t any major changes to the event planned, Day said.

“Obviously, we’re always looking for new entertainment or maybe some new activities on the grass,” he said. “We’re always on the lookout for things like that, but at this point, there’s nothing confirmed just because it’s pretty early. The biggest thing is, we just pray for no wind and no rain.”

If the weather doesn’t behave, however, the event isn’t a bust. There are always plenty of things to do while grounded.

“That’s one of the things that we do that many balloon festivals don’t do — we have the fair. We’ve got the carnival,” Day said. “We’ve got a lot of entertainment on the grass, entertainment on the stage, and we usually have over 100 vendors, so there are things to do and stuff that are not dependent on the wind.”

The Balloon Festival will still take place at Windsor 4 in Lake Havasu State Park next year, Day confirmed.


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