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Balloon rally, Friday Night Cruise this weekend for Rendezvous

Jul 19, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

Cars, motorcycles, barbecue and hot-air balloons are among the attractions this weekend as the 32nd annual Riverton Rendezvous continues July 20-22.

Early birds hoping to catch a balloon flight soaring into the summer skies are invited to show up at 6 a.m. Friday when the media day balloon launch will take place at the Central Wyoming College.

It's the first of three scheduled launches over the weekend.

Balloonmeister Pat Newlin said the media day balloon launch expects 16 balloons for media and firefighters.

"The balloon committee decided to extend an invitation to firefighters in the area to show gratitude for all of the work they have done with this season of wildfires," Newlin said.

Although the event is geared toward media and firefighters, Newlin said there might be balloon operators who have room for a few passengers in their baskets, and chase crew members often are needed as well.

The balloon rally continues at 6 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, with this year's main balloon launches featuring 22 sponsored balloons.

Newlin said balloon pilots are coming from Colorado, Utah, Kentucky and California.

"The Riverton Rendezvous hot-air balloon rally has become really popular as a western balloon rally," Newlin said. "Our rally is unique. A lot of balloon pilots like to come to Riverton and fly."

The balloons are sponsored for $300 that includes one day of flying or $500 for two days.

The flights are sponsored ahead of time but Newlin encourages anyone interested in sponsorship to sign up early for next year.

"We have been able to go for 32 years with the support from our community and hope to go many more," Newlin said.

A specially shaped balloon for this year's rally is the Humpty Dumpty balloon flown by Rich Lawhorn from Kentucky. Lawhorn will share stories from his ballooning career at the annual celebrity adventure talk at 7 p.m. Friday at Realty Broker Plaza in downtown Riverton.

Newlin said the Riverton balloon committee is always looking for more people to join and help out at the balloon rally.

"A lot of our members have been involved since the beginning 32 years ago and are aging," Newlin said. "We would love for younger people in Riverton to step up and show an interest in volunteering."

Tethered balloon rides will be available at the CWC launch field Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m., featuring one of Riverton's familiar Cloudkisser balloons.

A pancake breakfast is served Saturday at 6 a.m., with a doughnut breakfast Sunday, also at 6 a.m.

On Saturday at 8 p.m., if weather permits, the balloons will be inflated and tethered, resembling magic lanterns in the CWC launch field.

Redneck barbecue

Riverton PAWS animal shelter is hosting the redneck barbecue festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at CWC's south lawn.

The event offers food vendors as well as catered barbecue, with proceeds going to the Dog House Fund project to help expand current animal adoption center.

Friday Night Cruise

Car and motorcycle enthusiasts are invited to the 20th annual Rocky Mountain Rebels Friday night cruise car and bike festival starting at 6 p.m.

The vehicles will meet at the Kmart parking lot at 1960 N. Federal Blvd. and ride down Federal to Main Street.

The street will be closed to vehicle traffic after that and become a pedestrian mall for the evening, featuring assorted entertainment and food stops.

Longtime volunteer Steve Harless said the cruise is always enjoyable due to people coming out and lining the streets to watch the cars.

"The cars and motorcycles are really neat," Harless said. "The models of cars range from the first vehicles ever made to the newest models."

The cars will line up on Main Street and participate in a burnout contest allowing drivers spin their tires to create thick, billowing smoke. Harless said whoever generates the most audience applause wins.

Harless said a mystery car and bike will be unveiled in front of the Acme Theatre at 312 E. Main.

Balloon pilots also will be present to ignite their propane torches in what is known as "candle-sticking" starting at about 8:30 p.m.

Most of the Friday Night Cruise vehicles will remain in town Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CWC's south lawn for the Rocky Mountain Rebels Car and Bike Show. A car and bike swap meet accompanies the show. It gets started at 8 a.m. also on CWC's south lawn.

"What is one man's junk is another man's treasure," Harless said. "You never know what you may find.

"The car and bike show is always a fun event because it is like a reunion," Harless said. "You get to enjoy cool cars and see people you normally don't have the opportunity to see which is always fun."

Other Events

The Wind River Heritage Center Museum offers activities for families from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The museum is located at 1075 S. Federal Blvd.

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