HOWELL, Mich. (WLNS) – If you were near Howell at any time this weekend, you may have seen hot air balloons flying high in the sky as the 32nd annual balloon fest is underway. Every year the event draws in massive crowds to the area which is good news for the entire community.
“It’s excitement times a hundred and fifty thousand,” said Michelle Tokan, Director of the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest.
“It sounds maybe a little corny but it’s, it’s really magical,” Michigan Challenge Balloonfest Chair, Rick Resinger said with a smile.
From carnival rides, to indulging in corn dogs and elephant ears and of course the main event of seeing hot air balloons launch into the sky, the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest knows how to draw in a crowd.
“It brings in hundreds of thousands of people as well as tens upon thousands of dollars in economic impact in the community,” Resinger stated.
Resinger says many of these people drive in from far away staying at local hotels and spending money at local businesses.
“Not only locally here in Howell for all the merchants and restaurants, but the surrounding communities,” Resinger said.
Proceeds from the festival itself also bring a boost. Last year, more than $13,000 was donated to non-profit organizations.
“The rest goes into our operational budget in order to bring this event to the community,” Tokan mentioned.
But it’s not about the money for people like Michelle Tokan and Rick Resinger, to them Balloonfest… is priceless.
“It’s become such a tradition that it’s a destination event…people plan their vacations around the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest,” Resinger said.
“Our guests come back year round or year and year again and kind of make it part of their family tradition for summertime fun,” said Tokan.
So what is it about this particular summer festival that attracts the massive crowds?
“The balloons…as soon as the balloons start going up, the people just come in,” Armada, MI resident Renee Penn excitedly stated.
“We love this event, it’s our passion, it’s in our hearts and of course we enjoy making others happy as well,” said Tokan.