Art in the Park, Balloon Rodeo highlight colorful weekend in Steamboat |

Art in the Park, Balloon Rodeo highlight colorful weekend in Steamboat

Annual events get started Saturday

Nicole Inglis

The annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park celebrations will hit Steamboat Springs on Saturday and Sunday. Art in the Park will offer work by about 140 artists, including Steamboat Pilot & Today photographer Joel Reichenberger, who will have a booth with framed photographs and photo compilations. This balloon rodeo photo will be among his work.

— As he has done for almost 20 years, Leo Atkinson, with children Dusty and Sisi, will crack open hundreds of sparkling geodes this weekend for Art in the Park festival-goers at West Lincoln Park.

And although Atkinson sells his high-end mineral sculptures at his booth as well, he sees the event as a way to reach out to his hometown community through art and entertainment.

"There's not a lot of people out there spending lots of thousands of dollars," he said. "There are some people that will sneak through and spend tons of money, but for us, it's a homecoming thing."

The 37th annual Art in the Park will fill West Lincoln Park all day Saturday and Sunday, and the 31st annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo starts at 6:30 a.m. each day.

The free art event, also a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, will feature about 140 vendors from across the nation. The event is juried, so every vendor had to apply for a position.

Arts Council Artistic Director Park Meyers said the vendors offer diversity in high-end arts and crafts.

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"I think it's a great opportunity for the community to see all handmade, artisan work," he said.

Juggling and entertainment troupe We're Not Clowns, the Jasmir belly-dancers and the cast of Piknik Theatre Festival will provide live entertainment. The Steamboat Arts & Crafts Gym will offer a spot for children to work on their own artistic creations.

"I think it's going to be a really great way to see artwork from around the country as well as being able to see it in a great environment," Meyers said.

The National Weather Service has forecast sunny skies with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday.

Though weather is important, it's not the only forecast that event organizers and local businesses are paying attention to. This weekend, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is anticipating 8,300 visitors in Steamboat.

Last year, the Chamber anticipated 8,700 visitors, but 10,000 people actually were in town on Saturday night of the comparable weekend.

Balloons afloat

A big draw for the weekend is the vibrant, early morning display of bursts of color in the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo.

At 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 37 hot air balloon pilots will begin inflating their vessels at Bald Eagle Lake to compete in piloting competitions. More than 1,800 spectators are expected to watch the balloons take flight.

There will be souvenir vendors and food vendors at the launch site, and admission is free from 6 to 9:30 a.m. Because there is no parking at Bald Eagle Lake, free shuttles will run to and from Meadows Parking Lot at Pine Grove and Mount Werner roads to the launch site starting at 5:45 a.m.

After the balloon rodeo Saturday, members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will ski jump into the lake from 9 to 10 a.m.

"People from out of town love this event because it's kind of magical seeing all the hot air balloons in the air," Chamber spokeswoman Michelle Krasilinec said. "When you see one or two, it makes you stop and look up, but to have 37 of them up there at once is really cool."

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