Balloon Fest only weeks away

Balloons may be the main attraction, but there will plenty to do on the ground as well at this year's Poteau Balloon Fest, scheduled Oct. 18-19.“We have worked very hard to have activities and events for people of all ages," said Chris Ward, Poteau Chamber of Commerce board chairman.This year’s event will include more than 30 teams competing in the KCBS BBQ Oklahoma State Championship Cook-Off, according to Chamber CEO Karen Wages.Barbecue tickets can be purchased in advance or at the gate for $7 to receive a plate dinner including two sides and barbecued chicken from 6-8 p.m. Friday or pulled pork from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.New this year will be Extreme Zip-Lining and Derek Cook FMX Moto Cross Stunt Bikes.Armbands may be purchased in advance at the Poteau Chamber of Commerce for $3 or at the event for $5. Each armband will allow access for both days. Other events and attractions include tethered balloon rides, balloon glows, mud bog races, Mean Machine monster truck rides, carnival rides, helicopter rides, poker run, 5k run, BMX freestyle team, Frisbee dogs, Mutts Gone Nutts, Cowboy Pistoliers, Joe & Jr., a magician, pet costume contest, Little Miss & Mister Balloon Fest, wagon rides, fantastic foods, vendors and more.Parking will be available on the grounds for $5. Free parking and shuttle service will be available at Carl Albert State College and the Poteau Industrial Park.All events and balloon events are wind and weather permitting, Wages said. "Balloon flights are most likely to occur from 7-10 a.m. and 4-7:00 p.m. However they are not guaranteed during these times," Wages said."The atmospheric pressure plays a huge factor in balloon activities. We cannot guarantee balloon activities there could also be some delays in flight times. Balloon pilots will be set up on the balloon field talking about the concept of ballooning and giving weather updates and flight times," she said. Gates will open at noon Friday, Oct. 18, with a Balloon Glow at dark. Gates open Saturday at 9 a.m. with another Balloon Glow at dark.  Attendance at the annual event has grown to more than 30,000 and it received the Lt. Governor’s Red Bud Award for “Outstanding Event in Oklahoma.”For a list of events and times, visit or call Poteau Chamber of Commerce (918) 647-9178.