The Great Falls Balloon Festival, along with many area non-profits and for-profit businesses, are looking at the impact CoVID-19 is having on our communities. Many festivals around the state and country have faced similar uncertainties. We recognize that the community relies on us to provide a high-quality festival bringing themed balloons, musical entertainment, amusement rides, and so much more from all across the country. We take that responsibility and community pride seriously.
Governor Janet Mills set forth time tables and guidance for the State of Maine. The Great Falls Balloon Festival intends to honor the guidelines set forth by the State. The GFBF brings up to 100,000 visitors to the Greater Lewiston-Auburn area throughout the event, which is higher than the State guidelines allow at this time for stage 3 (July and August). Also, many of our pilots, guests, and entertainment come from others states and even other countries. For these reasons, the Great Falls Balloon Festival regrettably announces that they must cancel their 2020 event. In times like these, the GFBF must consider the health and safety of our festival-goers and their families as our top priority.
One of the most important downfalls of the GFBF being cancelled is the charitable part of the festival. The festival’s mission allows area non-profits to raise money for their important work which enhances our communities. The GFBF often sees funds raised over $50,000 for its charitable partners that include such groups as high school groups, masonic organizations, local nonprofits, and youth groups, which rely on the festival each year. This will hit these groups very hard at an already difficult time. We also understand that this pandemic has had a huge economic impact on many of our local sponsors and feel at this time we want to respect them by not soliciting sponsorship.
We are proud of how the State of Maine has handled this pandemic as we understand it takes great courage and vigilance to be a leader through these difficult times. Moving forward, the GFBF Board will continue to meet to begin to organize the 2021 event. Our hope is that the communities of Lewiston and Auburn, along with our business sponsors, and other friends of the GFBF, will partner with us to bring this festival back in 2021. The GFBF looks forward to again highlighting and celebrating this great community as a great visitor destination and creating an opportunity for our local non-profits to raise money and promote their missions. We are remaining positive and excited for what we will have in store for next year’s festival!
We hope everyone in our communities stay safe and remain healthy. See you at the Great Falls Balloon Festival in August 2021.
Tracy A. Collins