June 18 • 11:06 PM

Take flight 'among the hills'

Balloons, balloon rides galore available at Metamora Days this weekend

Hundreds of visitors watch as balloon pilots ready balloons for take-off during last year’s Metamora Country Days festival. Balloon launches are planned for this Friday and Saturday during the festival. photo by Catherine Brakefield.

August 22, 2007
Taken from the Native American name, "Among the hills," Metamora throws out a colorful welcome mat full of down-home hospitality with its annual Metamora Country Days festivities, which kick off this weekend.

Sponsorships from businesses and community are the key to the festival's success, which first began as a high school reunion in the early 1960s.

Located just west of Dryden, organizers of the festival—including the Metamora Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club and Metamora Fire Department combine the old with the new. Quilting, art and craft shows; pony, carriage and helicopter rides all play a part in the festivities planned for August 24 and 25.

The highlight event, The Metamora Balloon Festival, will take place at 6 p.m. on both days at the balloon launching field located on N. Oak Street behind the Lions Club.

Phil Andreae has been 'Balloon Meister' for 26 years. Owner of Phillip J. Andreae Realtors, Andreae is a commercial pilot and member of Southeastern Balloon Association. He says the balloon launches planned for both days will only take place if the wind speed is less than ten knots.

For the public to enjoy the experience to the fullest, Andreae shares the following about balloons:

Balloons are about seven stories tall. Propane is the fuel for the flame that heats the inside of the balloon. The wicker basket attached to the balloon carries two to three passengers and there are no steering wheels in a balloon.

"You pretty much go with the wind. There are different currents at different elevations," Andreau says. "And if you can identify those wind directions, you can change your direction by changing your altitude and select the direction you want to go. The selection of your landing sight has to be in front of you and not off to the right or left."

During the pilot meeting, a small helium balloon will be released to determine the wind speed and direction. If the balloon goes straight out, there is too much wind. If the balloon goes straight up, there is very little wind. That tells the pilots that they can fly. Once the direction of the wind is determined, the balloon crew lays out the envelope or the bulb (the balloon) on the grass down wind. They start an inflator fan and that fan packs the envelope with cold air. Once it's fully packed then the pilot will start the burner and begin to heat the air inside the balloon. The hot air is what allows the balloon to lift upright.

Once the passengers have entered the basket, the pilot continues to heat the inside of the balloon. The pilot will say the balloon is now "light" and is ready to take off.

"You can take your finger and move the side of the basket once equilibrium has been reached," Andreau says. "With a few extra blasts, the balloon will gently leave the launch field and the adventure begins."

The Hare and Hound Race begins with the first balloon, the 'hare' balloon, getting a good 10-minute start. The hare balloon will land and place a big white "X" on the ground marking the spot for those flying behind him, the 'hounds.'

The individual dropping a beanbag closest to the "X" target wins. The Hare and Hound race usually takes about an hour, depending on the way the wind blows. The skilled pilot will determine if there are changes of directions in different elevations and take advantage of maneuvering closer to the "X".

Other highlights include the Metamora Country Day Parade, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday. Come rain or shine, Grand Marshal Chuck Schiedegger will lead the 30 or more participants down Oak Street and back. Schiedegger is the founder of Metamora Products, and an active community leader and resident of Metamora for forty years.

In addition, the Lions Club sponsors an antique car show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for cars, trucks and motorcycles. Saturday registration is from 7-10 a.m. Friday offers karaoke and dancing at the beer tent. Saturday's plan includes a live band and dancing from 6 p.m. - 1 a.m. Helicopter rides take place from 1 p.m. to dusk.

The Lions Hall offers delectable ribs, chicken and 'Al's Famous Fish Dinners' both Friday and Saturday.

The fire and police departments will have a Fire Prevention and D.A.R.E information table set up after the parade. The table will be located behind White Horse Inn.

The Metamora/Hadley Masonic Lodge offers ice cream sundaes at the balloon launching field Friday and on Saturday at the White Horse parking lot from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. At the Masonic Lodge on Main Street, they and the Metamora Police Dept. will host 'MICHIP,' the Michigan Child Identification Program from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday. There is no charge for the service

The historic White Horse Inn, Lions Club and Metamora Cub Scouts will provide an assortment of food options all weekend long. The Floyd King Trio will be appearing from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Harmer Park Stage located behind the White Horse Inn.

The Sweet Adelines share their barbershop-style harmonies from 2:30-3:10 p.m. on Saturday at Harmer Park.

The Doubletake Band plays a medley of 50s and 60s music and will be playing from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday at Harmer Park.

Upland Hills Petting Zoo will be at Equine Gatherings on N. Oak Street from noon to 4 p.m.on Sat., and pony rides will be offered from 1- 5 p.m. Kelly Barry will be giving a demonstration about natural horsemanship and its application to the rider at the equine round pen from 1-5 p.m.

Other highlights include the historical society's Quilt Show and quilt raffle, adoptable pets from Canine Animal Rescue, and people can purchase a copy of 'Metamora Among the Hills' at the Metamora Library. As always, fireworks at dusk sponsored by the Lions will be a part of the festivities, as will vendors and children's activities.

Why not take a ride out to 'the Hills' this weekend and enjoy Metamora Days?

Castle Creek
06 - 18 - 19
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