Not content to follow the crowd, Ken Brunsman was looking for something different when he was named fund-raising chairman for the Oklahoma City affiliate for the American Diabetes Association earlier this year.
"Everyone has pancake breakfasts, runs, or things of that sort, but I wanted something different," he said Tuesday. "I wanted something that was different enough that people would remember, but also help the local community and put more money back."
What he came up with was the Oklahoma Balloon Classic, a hot air balloon competition and festival scheduled for Nov. 2-4 at Oklahoma City's Clarence E. Page Airport west of Yukon.
The festival will include a chili cook-off, arts and crafts festival and music festival where local bands can display their talents. The event also will feature drink and food concessions, some operated by other not-for-profit organizations.
"When we started investigating this, we found that there is a lot of interest in hot air balloons in Oklahoma, but it's hard to find a right time to fly in Oklahoma," he said. "That's why most of our competitors will come from out of state.
"I checked with some meteorologist friends of mine and I asked them that if they were to fly a hot air balloon in Oklahoma, when would it be. They all told me the ideal time for ballooning in this part of the country is late October or early November.
"So, we have scheduled this for early November to take advantage of that weather.
"I've also been told that balloon enthusiasts look for an excuse to fly," he said. "They'll drop a bride on the threshhold to take one more flight before winter sets in.
"The ballooning season revolves around the big festival in Albuquerque, …