Shaped Balloons a first for Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival

Special Guests Darth Vader and Yoda shaped balloons will be on static display at this year’s Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival, during both launches at the airport on Aug. 27-28, and also at Butler Park during the Night Glow. (Coutesy photo)


HOT SPRINGS – The month of August is a busy time in Fall River County, which began with the 110th annual county fair in Edgemont earlier this month and will conclude with the 7th annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival in Hot Springs this weekend on August 26-28.

The Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce puts on the balloon festival each year, and Executive Director Olivia Mears is confident that the 2022 festival will be one to remember. 

“Each year we endeavor to bring something new to our festival and now in our 7th year, we are excited to announce that, for the first time, we will have shaped balloons coming to Hot Springs later this month,” stated Mears, who also serves as the Festival Director. “Thanks to our New Balloonmeister Tamie Shrum, we will have special guests Darth Vader and Yoda balloons at the Hot Springs Airport on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and they will also glow at Butler Park, all of which is of course, weather permitting.”

The special guest Darth Vader and Yoda balloons will be on static display at the launch field in the morning, both Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28. They will also be at the Glow at Butler Park on Saturday, Aug 27 starting at 7:30 pm. Attendees will be able to come up to the balloons, take pictures and talk to the pilots.

Shrum came on board last year as the event’s Safety Officer and Ride Coordinator and offers a wealth of ballooning experience, having flown both locally and abroad, Mears said. Shrum is also the editor of the Balloon Federation of America publication called “Quick Release.” 

“We are thrilled to have Tamie leading our festival this year,” added Mears.

The festival kicks off in Centennial Park at 12 noon on Friday, Aug. 26, with a free performance by Magician Jared Furnau. Following his show, Furnau will be making balloon animals for kids. There will also be vendors, food, a Farmer’s Market and kid activities in Centennial Park, ending with a free concert from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. by Wild Blue, which is a hot new band in Fall River County. 

The following morning at around 6 a.m., on Saturday, Aug. 27, approximately 30 balloons will launch from Hot Springs Municipal Airport (weather permitting). Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chair or picnic blankets as bleacher seating is limited. Entrance to the festival is free and the Hot Springs Rotary Club will be selling coffee and muffins.

For sale at the airport will be the Official Festival T-Shirt and other balloon memorabilia.

“If you have always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, then purchase your balloon ride in advance and witness the spectacle of the balloon festival from the air,” Mears said. For balloon rides call Tamie at (970) 420 4109.

The fun in Hot Springs on Saturday does not end with the balloon launch, as everyone is invited to head into Hot Springs for more all-day fun, including a Walk-In Balloon and Fun Zone at The Mammoth Site.

Centennial Park activities kick off with the Southern Hills Recreation’s Fun Run and breakfast. The park will also once again be filled with the Chamber’s giant inflatables, which includes obstacle courses and bouncy houses from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“We also have some fantastic vendors this year, so people can enjoy a whole day of good food and live music,” Mears said. “Look for incredible deals and specials throughout Hot Springs at our local merchants.”

Saturday Night features the “Glow around Town” with the incredible spectacle of glowing balloons at The Mammoth Site, Centennial Park, Butler Park and the State Veterans Home. The POW/MIA and Stars and Stripes balloons will glow at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home and don’t miss the special guest balloons Yoda and Darth Vader glowing at Butler Park.

On Sunday, Aug. 28 (weather permitting), the balloons will once more launch from the Hot Springs Airport.  

As always, entrance to the festival is free and there is no charge to enjoy the Kid Zone in Centennial Park.

“We do everything we can to keep the festival free,” added Mears. “We want people to come to Hot Springs and enjoy everything we have to offer and if they don’t have to pay for the entertainment, that leaves them with funds to spend at our local businesses. It is entirely due to our sponsors, that we can continue to offer this quality event.”  

For more information, visit or call the Hot Springs Chamber at 605-745-4140

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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