LEWISTON — The Great Falls Balloon Festival is throwing a beach party.

The Great Falls Balloon Festival is hosting its 21st annual festival Aug. 16-18 with a beach party themed weekend.

From Simard-Payne Memorial Park, visitors can enjoy the sight of dozens of hot air balloons as they take to the skies over the Androscoggin River and the rocky Great Falls. This year, Waddles the SnoBird and Claw’d the Crazy Crab are the special shapes headlining a weekend of hot air balloons, food, entertainment and fun for all ages.

Balloon launches are scheduled for 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, weather permitting. Visitors can arrange in advance to take a flight; call the Balloon Ride Line at (207) 782-2637.

When the balloons aren’t floating overhead, there is still plenty to do: dozens of food booths serve everything from fried dough to taco salads, including breakfast for those early morning launches, all run by volunteers from local nonprofit groups.

Along the walkway, which follows the river and winds along the edge of the festival grounds, craft and trade booths invite browsing and a children’s area entertains everyone from toddlers to tweens.

Live music can be enjoyed throughout the day and night, from children’s shows and blues singers to jazz, pop and oldies. A carnival, parade, and various demonstrations and contests round out the weekend’s events.

Established in 1992 by a group of business people, civic leaders and friends, the mission of the Great Falls Balloon Festival is to provide fundraising opportunities to local nonprofit groups while celebrating our community and promoting the Lewiston/Auburn area as a visitor destination.

For more information, go to www.greatfallsballoonfestival.org, find us on Facebook, or call (207) 783-2249 or (800) 639-6331.

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