A Lineup of New Reasons to Join Our Crowd

What’s new at the Quechee Balloon Festival this year? Only all the entertainment. Only a whole new dimension to kids activities. And only a big increase in the number of sponsors who make the event possible.

Let’s talk entertainment first, because there’s a lot. It begins as soon as the gates open at 3 pm Friday, June 15, when Gerry Grimo and the East Bay Jazz Ensemble take the stage.

At 6 we’re talking The Dirty Dottys, the evening’s headliner act. They’ve got a unique pop-Motown sound and a saucy inspiration: Dotty, songwriter Julie DiOrio’s grandmother, who was known for her off-color humor. They’ll get your butt moving.

Saturday? That’d be alt rock at 10:30, acrobatic juggling at 11:30 and 5, bluegrass and country with the Upper Valley’s Dinosaurs at 12:30, Vermont’s Top 40 rocking Tricksters at 3, and then -- big time -- it’s headliner Brooks Hubbard and the Nashville All-Stars, whose inspirations run from The Allman Brothers to John Mayer.

Sunday the music starts early with Never Too Late at 10. It peaks at noon with Patti Casey and Colin McCaffrey and their warm, original New England bluegrass sound, then peaks again at 2 with more bluegrass from Jim Rooney and Bob Amos, and then peaks AGAIN at 4:30 with Soul Fix, covering soul, funk, rhythm and blues to end the weekend.

One admission gets you all that -- all weekend long.

Euro Bungee, anyone?

As for the kids, this year’s festival features a whole new wrinkle: hands-on, do-it-yourself science.

On Saturday afternoon from 2 to 6, the Montshire Museum’s science tent offers a range of air-related activities, from making parachutes to building straw rockets and pocket kites.

In the STEM challenge tent, open Saturday and Sunday, parents can join their kids in making cool objects out of everyday things. The Army Corps of Engineers rolls in Saturday with its water safety trailer, too.

All of which is not to say the kids shouldn’t bounce their energy out in the Kids’ Zone or go soaring with Euro Bungee.

Of course, they’ll never forget the balloons -- Friday at 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 6 am and 6 pm, assuming the weather cooperates. It’s worth lingering for the balloon glow Friday and Saturday evenings, too.

There’s food. There are crafts. There are vendors.

And behind it all, there are 50 sponsors, up from 35. That’s soaring!

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