The 26th annual Winthrop Balloon Roundup will begin populating the valley’s skies with colorful hot air craft starting early Friday (March 3), and continue through Saturday and Sunday —weather permitting.
Saturday night again features the popular Balloon Glow event in downtown Winthrop.
It’s all free for the viewing. The daily launches are scheduled for around 7 a.m. from the field behind the Winthrop Inn on Highway 20. Each morning at 6:45 a.m. the balloonists will make the decision to fly or not based on current weather conditions. Balloon pilots have extensive flight training, and ballooning is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
No pets are allowed at the launch site.
Get some breakfast!• Kiwanis pancake breakfast fundraiser: New to the Balloon Roundup this year is the Winthrop Kiwanis pancake breakfast on Saturday (March 4) from 7-11 a.m. at the Winthrop Barn. The event’s proceeds will go to help Jamie’s Place, the adult family home in Winthrop. Cost is $12 per person and includes pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee.
• Eagles breakfast buffet: Methow Eagles in Twisp host a breakfast buffet open to all on Sunday (March 5) from 8-11 a.m., at 205 Highway 20 S. Cost is $14 for adults; $7 for kids under 12.
The roundup typically draws a dozen or more balloonists from around the region. Most observers follow the balloons as they drift down-valley, generally along the path of the Methow River, before alighting. The flying is usually over by about 9 a.m.
Good viewing spots can be found on Highway 20, Witte Road and Old Twisp Highway. Launch viewers are asked to park at the Methow Valley Thriftway, and not on the road nor at Winthrop Ace Hardware.
During Balloon Glow, starting at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, balloons are inflated (but won’t go aloft) on Riverside Avenue. It is also free. No cars may park on the north end of Riverside Avenue after 4 p.m. Viewers are encouraged to park at the Winthrop Barn Auditorium or the Town Trailhead and walk to the event, which is also subject to weather conditions. No pets are allowed.
The Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, with the help of sponsoring local businesses, provides propane for the pilots and other expenses. Local memorabilia will be available at the launch site.
For more information, visit https://winthropwashington.com/events/balloon-roundup.