April 22, 2014. Louisville, KY.   – The U.S. Bank Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest, with five hot-air balloon events, lifts off this Thursday, April 24, and runs through Saturday, April 26.

The ballooning events kick off on Thursday at 6 p.m. with the second annual U.S. Bank Great Balloon Crew Challenge at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville. Over a dozen balloon teams will compete for bragging rights and a traveling trophy in the friendly competition. The Crew Challenge includes three timed-challenges:  rolling a balloon into a bag (along a 75 ft. course), inflating mini-balloons, and fishing a Pepsi out of a cooler full of Coca-Cola.  The Crew with the lowest combined time will win. Later that night, 18 balloons will participate in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glimmer on the North and South Great Lawns at 8:30 p.m.  The Glimmer will be preceded by live music at 7 p.m. from Appalatin and Guardianes de la Sierra

BalloonFest resumes the following morning (Friday, April 25) with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race at 7 a.m. at Bowman Field.  The Rush-Hour race will offer a beautiful view to those fighting traffic on their way to work. The U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center at 9 p.m. on Friday night.  Glow spectators are encouraged to come out early (gates open at 6 p.m.) and make an evening out of it. At 9 p.m., the balloon pilots will fire their burners, making the balloons glow against the night sky synchronized to a musical score provided by New Country Q103.1.  The event will also be broadcast live on WLKY on MeTV Louisville 32.2.

The BalloonFest wraps up on Saturday, April 26, with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race at 7 a.m. at Bowman Field.  A field of 31 balloons will take flight from Bowman Field in the oldest portion of the balloon events, the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race.

Since the first Great Balloon Race was held in 1973, the Derby Festival’s balloon events have been considered among the best in the country by pilots from all around the world. BalloonFest attractions are annually among the most popular family-friendly events on the Derby Festival schedule.

The Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest is sponsored by U.S. Bank. Easy Rock 105.1 is media partner of the Rush Hour Race and Great Balloon Race.  New Country Q103.1 is media partner of the Great Balloon Glow.  WLKY TV is the TV broadcast partner for the Glow.

Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.