The annual Balloon Rodeo will take place at Bald Eagle Lake off U.S. Highway 40.

File photo

The annual Balloon Rodeo will take place at Bald Eagle Lake off U.S. Highway 40.

Balloon Rodeo takes to the skies

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If you go

What: 28th Annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, presented by Bank of the West

When: 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, launch field opens at 6 a.m.

Where: Bald Eagle Lake, on U.S. Highway 40 south of Steamboat Springs

— More than 40 hot air balloons will launch over the Yampa Valley this weekend as the 28th annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo gets under way at Bald Eagle Lake.

The Balloon Rodeo, a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association signature event, draws throngs of locals and visitors each year. After the balloons are launched, they participate in an air rodeo, which consists of a series of events the pilots must complete while flying.

Balloonmeister Brad Poissant is not just pumped for the Balloon Rodeo to begin, but also for the weather. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-high 80s throughout the weekend, with clear skies and mild wind, according to the National Weather Service.

Hundreds of pilots and crew members will be on site this weekend to make sure everything runs smoothly. Each pilot and his or her balloon was specially chosen to participate in the Balloon Rodeo, with factors including balloon size and the pilot's flight record weighing on their application, Poissant said.

The annual event moved to Bald Eagle Lake in 2007 after many years spent closer to the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. The Chamber is hoping this year's event will run a little easier than last year's, Chamber spokeswoman Molly Killien said.

All parking will be at the Meadows Lot on Pine Grove Road on Saturday and Sunday; no parking will be available on-site at Bald Eagle Lake. Free shuttle service will be available and the Steamboat Lions Club will be on hand serving coffee, Killien said.

"Last year, there were some hiccups," Killien said. "Hopefully the shuttles will run a lot more smoothly this year."

The launch field will open to the public at 6 a.m. both days, with crews inflating their balloons beginning at 7 a.m.

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