Huge crowds drawn to balloon fest - Metro US

Huge crowds drawn to balloon fest

If there was one problem at the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Gatineau this past weekend, it’s that conditions for the event were too perfect.

“It was just wonderful,” said Alain Fredette, chairman of the festival’s board of directors.

According to Festival spokesperson Eric Brulotte more than 60,000 people turned out for the festival on Friday and more than 85,000 turned up on Saturday.

Fredette said the crowd was so big for Saturday night’s Kenny Rogers concert that they had to push some fencing back to accommodate everyone.

With more than 300 activities and 40 amusement park rides set up in La Baie Park, Brulotte said they focused programming aimed at everyone from infants to seniors.

Of course the main attractions, as it has been for the past 22 years, were the 67 hot air balloons brought in from across North America.

The weekend weather was nearly perfect for ballooning. Of the seven departure windows, balloons were able to lift off five times during the weekend.

Yesterday, the big event was the finals of the North American Strength Athletes Championship hosted by Hugo Girard a former World’s Strongest Man and retired Gatineau police officer.

This is the 11th year that a strength competition has taken place during the festival and it’s grown into arguably the biggest event of it’s kind on the continent.

Girard said there are plans to start a North American tour next year and have the finals in Gatineau.

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