By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Other | Issue: August 2010
The Gatesway Foundation’s annual Balloon Festival takes place August 6-8, 2010 at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.
Always a popular event, the Gatesway Foundation’s 15th annual Balloon Festival is Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8 at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.
“We’re going to have over 30 pilots from nine different states, and some special balloons we haven’t seen before,” says LaQuinda Davison, Gatesway’s director of development. A giant among these is Jumpin’ Jack, a balloon that measures 110 feet tall and 105,000 cubic feet.
The Balloon Festival, which began in 1993 to celebrate the Gatesway Foundation’s 30th anniversary, is free to attend, and will feature a kids’ area, food, and arts and crafts vendors. “We really want to make the Balloon Festival an affordable family event,” says Davison. “Gatesway depends so much on the generosity of our community partners, and making admission free is a way we can give back.”
The Balloon Festival is one of Gatesway’s two major fundraising events, along with their annual May golf tournament, and proceeds from the festival will benefit the Gatesway Foundation, which offers a wide range of residential and vocational support for children and adults with developmental disabilities throughout Oklahoma. Gatesway now serves about 400 people annually.
“We’re here to meet whatever needs the developmentally disabled have, and this festival is a big asset to what we do,” says Davison. “The Gatesway Foundation does so much to make people’s lives better, and since it was founded in 1963, we’ve served thousands of people.”
In recent years, Gatesway was able to use festival proceeds to make necessary changes. “We were able to substantially reduce the number of people in each home because of the support we received,” says Davison.
The success of the Balloon Festival is due in large part to its sponsors. “Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs really helps us,” says Davison. “Their support allows us to make the festival what it is.” Other sponsors for the Gatesway Balloon Festival include Fleming Building Company, Ameristar Fence Products, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Zarrow Families Foundation, Senator Bill Brown, International Insurance Brokers, Schwickerwrath Dirt Sales and many others.
The Gatesway Balloon Festival kicks off Friday, August 6 at 4 p.m. with opening ceremonies, followed by the national anthem performed by Jennifay Nichols. There will be a balloon flight at 6:30, a balloon glow at 8:30, and music at 9 on the Dog Iron Stage. Tethered balloon rides will be offered between 6:30 and 8:30.
Saturday’s activities begin with a competition flight at 7 a.m. There will be another competition flight at 6:30 p.m., and tethered balloon rides will be available from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event’s second and final balloon glow will be held at 8:30 p.m. The day will also feature lawn mower races, the Glue Dobbers, and musical entertainment inside at the Dog Iron Stage.
The festival concludes on Sunday, with a final flight at 7 a.m. and a $5 all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast will be served on Saturday and Sunday from 7 to 10 a.m.
The 2010 Gatesway Foundation’s annual Balloon Festival is Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8 at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore. For more information on the festival and the important work the Gatesway Foundation does, visit www.gatesway.org.