Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Olde Tyme Picnic Is a Winner Hot Air Balloon Ride Adds Spice to Festivities for Annual Event

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Olde Tyme Picnic Is a Winner Hot Air Balloon Ride Adds Spice to Festivities for Annual Event

Article excerpt

A FULL MOON rose above the hot air balloon glow at the St. Peters Olde Tyme Picnic Friday night, launching a weekend of new activities and annual favorites for the festival.

The event featured live performances, craft booths, a gas and steam engine display, a beer garden, food, carnival rides, lawn bowling, an adorable baby contest, a stock tractor pull and tethered balloon rides.

The gas and steam engine display by the Missouri-Illinois Tractor and Engine Club was an eclectic mix of 200 engines, including farm pumps, popcorn and peanut roasters, washing machine engines, a bone grinder, two cement mixers, a huge thresher and a mysterious machine owned by Gene McAtee. He believes his machine was used to pull a line of lawn mowers over golf fairways.

The balloon glow and the tethered balloon rides were two of the new activities. On Friday night, five hot air balloons nestled in Lone Wolff Park. Their flames illuminated the bright colors of the balloon silks.

Ray and Shirlee Klutenkamper of St. Peters were among the first to get a tethered balloon ride Saturday night. Riders paid $10 each for a five-to seven-minute ride.

"It was totally awesome," said Ray Klutenkamper.

"It was like floating," added his wife. "There was no noise."

Heidi Rood of O'Fallon and her son Nathan, 4, also had a ride. Rood said she liked the feeling of weightlessness. "You're floating . . . in your own little world."

She added, "I would like to have gone higher."

The balloons were tethered to ascend up to 130 feet, but the balloon basket that carried passengers only managed to rise about 30 feet - less than the top height of one of the two ferris wheels - at the beginning of the evening. As the air cooled and calmed after 8 p.m., the baskets went higher, up to 60 feet, said Keith Fear. Fear, 28, of Imperial, was the pilot and owner of the cherry-red balloon used for the ride.

Wind was the problem, said Fear.

Although the air seemed calm in the little valley that contains the park, above the trees the air was brisk, buffeting the balloon. The balloon strained at the nylon ropes, which were controlled by Fear's family and friends. …

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