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Balloons touching down along the Bridgewater Channel offer a popular photo opportunity during the annual Havasu Balloon Festival. The Havasu Festival & Fair won’t happen this year because of organizational challenges. 

The Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair, one of the biggest yearly events in Lake Havasu City, will be scaled back this year due to covid-19 and it will take place over two days on Jan. 16 to Jan. 17. 

The main Balloon Festival, which draws thousands to Havasu every year, was canceled this year because of the pandemic, but balloons will still be in sight next weekend, along with a drive-in movie, and the annual 5K run and golf tournament. Proceeds from these events will be distributed to local charities.

Here is what’s planned for next weekend’s event.

Night glow and drive-in movie: Festivities won’t occur at Windsor Beach this year, but hot air balloons will light up in the balloon night glow at the Sara Park Rodeo Grounds (weather permitting) on Jan. 16.

The evening is perfect for families with the night glow scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and a movie showing after. The balloon glow is expected to last for 30 minutes and a showing of a movie will follow with a scheduled start time of 7 p.m. According to Go Lake Havasu, the Disney/Pixar movie “Up” will be shown.

Cost for this event is $20 per car and spectators are welcomed to bring their own food and drinks, as vendors won’t be available. According to the festival’s website, only cash will be accepted and there will be no refunds.

Barbecue grills, fire pits, fireworks, or propane heaters won’t be allowed. Restrooms will be available and all attendees must stay with and/or by their vehicles.

Gates are expected to open at 4:45 p.m.

“You could bring your whole family for 20 bucks, see the glow and enjoy the movie afterwards,” Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair Board President Jim Day said. “We’re trying to minimize contact and eliminate a lot of crowding so people will be in their cars or next to their cars.”

5K run: The first event of the weekend will be the 5K Fun Run on the Island Trial on the morning of Jan. 16. No spectators will be allowed at the start/finish line and along the course.

According to the festival’s website, parking will be located on the west end of the island from Sam’s Beachcomber RV Resort. The 5K will start and end on site six on the island.

Due to covid-19, there will be staggered start between 8-8:30 a.m. and runners could start anytime within that half hour. The 5K is not a timed event, however, participants must finish the walk/run by 10 a.m.

Cost is $35 per person, $129 for a family (two parents and two children) or $180 for teams of six people.

Registration is available online and those who are interested in participating can also sign up on the day of the race, beginning at 7 a.m. Day said debit or credit cards could be accepted, but cash is the preferred option for those signing up on the day of the 5k.

Masks are required at check-in, staging area and the starting line, but participants could take them off or lower them once the race starts.

“This is pretty standard protocol at other 5K’s around the state,” Day said. “We’re doing basically a staggered start…so you eliminate all the people at one time at the starting line, so we’re trying to create some social distancing there.”

Golf tournament: The Balloon Festival Fourth Annual Golf Tournament will take place at the Refuge Golf Course & Country Club on Jan. 17.

The tournament includes a four-person team scramble and a shotgun start. There will also a putt contest, 50/50 drawings and a hole-in-one prize.

Cost per player is $100 and the entry includes a green fee, golf cart (two players per cart), goodie bag and each player will get range balls for practice.

Those who are interested in participating can register online on havasuballoonfest.com.

Day said there are openings for the tournament.

The tournament is scheduled to start at noon and end at 5 p.m.

Weather forecast

According to AccuWeather, the temperature at Lake Havasu is expected to have a high of 78 degrees during the daytime on Jan. 16. As soon as the evening rolls around, the weather is expected at 57 degrees during the night glow and movie.

During the golf tournament, the temperature is expected to have a high of 67 degrees. Day expects “good” weather for next weekend’s slate of events.

“Our primary goal is we hope people are motivated to try and support the non-profits in town,” Day said. “What we’re doing is trying to raise money for the non-profits since they’re having pretty lean year and weren’t able to do their own fundraising. We typically support many non-profits in town so we’re just trying to do what we can do to get some funds together and help these people out.”

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