After being put on hold in 2020, the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge is back and better than ever, with a new group of people ready to revolutionise the event and refocus it on the community, while driving tourism back into town.
“It is all brand new,” said Tommy Jeffs, who is overseeing the events on Gaskill Street on Saturday, 1 May. “It is a new committee; it is a young committee. What we are trying to do is make it all about Canowindra.”
The Balloon Challenge has taken many different forms since its inception in 2010 and the new committee is keen to see the event benefits locals, not just the swarms of visitors who stop by each year.
“It has usually been about the balloonists and people visiting for one day just to see the balloons,” said Tommy.
“We want people to stay in Canowindra and we want the whole town to get involved. What has happened in the past is you have 2,000 people in town and there is not enough to do, so they go to Cowra and Orange and they spend their money there. We want them to stay in Canowindra and spend their money here. We want the whole town to be involved.”
To meet their aim, the committee has devised several activities to engage members of the community during the Saturday street parade. Children are encouraged to decorate bikes, with the winners being included in the parade.
Competitions such as cutest pet and fancy dress with great prizes on offer, will further encourage kids to get involved. The adults have not been left out, with the Craft Shop running a cake competition, open to both men and women. There will be no shortage of food, with the pubs serving lunch and sweet treats such as fairy floss and ice cream on offer on Gaskill St. Entertainment will be provided by local buskers, a Ben Hall re-enactment, horse and carriage rides and the street parade, which includes cars courtesy of Cowra Antique Car Club.
“We want to get sporting bodies and schools who want to make a bit of money, to come down and set up a stall and sell some cakes and things like that,” said Tommy. “We will have all these people wanting to buy local produce and clubs can provide that and make money at the same time.”
The day’s events will flow into the Cabonne Community Glow, which kicks off at 3pm at Tom Clyburn Oval. There will be even more local food and entertainment at the oval and Canowindra’s signature balloon glow. If that is not enough, revellers can pop over to the Canowindra Services Club, where at 7pm, an AC/DC tribute band will rock on.
With 34 balloons currently entered and the Community Glow sold out, the event is sure to put Canowindra on the map once again, as the perfect spot to visit and live.
“It has got to be about Canowindra. We want the oldies, kids and townspeople involved. All the shops will do well out of it and it is great publicity for our town. That is what it should be about,” Tommy finished.