“It’s the lime rickeys,” said Dan St. Pierre, commander of the William Rogers Post for American Legion Post 153 — which, coincidentally, is the only group selling lime rickeys at the festival.

“We get people that come up here from Portland, not to see the balloons,” he said. “They come up, buy two at a time, walk around and drink them, buy two more and leave.”

The Post sold 2,000 of the beverages at the 2013 festival and expects to go through at least 100 pounds of limes this weekend.

“That should get us through,” St. Pierre said. “Last year, we had to run to the stores around here and chase them.”

Friday night was a perfect night for a lime rickey, but not so much for flying balloons. The festival had mild weather with sunny skies, but the balloon pilots kept a wary eye on dark skies to Lewiston’s southeast and west.

“There are unstable conditions because of a low system nearby,” pilot Rick Jones said.

Jones said it appeared updraft winds were blowing into the storms, potentially taking any launched balloons with them.

Instead, balloonists opted to fill up their balloons, but keep them grounded for Friday. Balloonmeister Mickey Reeder said they expect clear weather Saturday morning, similar to the conditions of Friday morning’s successful launch.

The festival continues Saturday morning with another balloon launch and a pancake breakfast at 6 a.m., followed by a special pancake breakfast with festival guests Pirates of the Dark Rose at 8 a.m.

The Pirates will set up their camp in the park and will participate in the festival parade from Academy Street in Auburn to Chestnut Street in Lewiston.

The pirates will present cannon lessons and a small arms demonstration. They will also host a “Buccaneer Bootcamp” for kids ages 6-12.

The festival wraps up Sunday with more balloon launches, more pirate battles and more live music.

Festival Treasurer Mell Hamlyn said many people forget that groups like the American Legion, St. Martin De Porres and local school groups are the real reason the balloon festival exists.

“The purpose is to provide a place for our local nonprofits to raise money and have fun,” she said.

The festival is major fundraiser for more than 30 local groups, who volunteer their time to help park cars, sell food or run the children’s area.

Brother Irenee Richard, executive director of St. Martin De Porres, said it’s the group’s biggest fundraiser for the year. They’ve had the same spot at the festival for 22 years, selling Italian sausages and hamburgers. 

“Last year, we had a hard time finding volunteers and we wrote the board and said we’d have to pull out,” he said. “But they came forward and helped us find some help.”

Across the park, parents and students of the Lewiston High School Field Hockey team were starting their first year at the festival.

“We finally got in,” parent Lisa Sinclair said. “We finally made the list.”

Sinclair said the festival organizers suggested they go with steak subs.

“But we said, ‘no!'” Sinclair said. “We want something new, different, fast.”

They opted to sell deep-fried beef ribs, glazed with barbecue sauce.

“When they come out, it’s like eating your mother’s Yankee pot roast,” volunteer dad Mike Shea said. “They are soft; they fall right off the bone. They’re unbelievable.”

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Traffic advisory

AUBURN — On Saturday, from 11 to 11:45 a.m., Main Street will be closed for the annual Balloon Festival parade.

Motorists not attending the festival are asked to seek alternate routes.

#GFBalloonFest: Watch the launch; share the launch

If you can’t make it to the Great Falls Balloon Festival this weekend, you can still watch each balloon launch on SunJournal.com. We will be sharing photos and videos of the festival fun in our social networks.

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You can also share your photos by sending them to [email protected] 

Saturday’s Events

Lewiston

  • 6 a.m.: Balloon Launch
  • 6-10 a.m.: Pancake Breakfast (under the tent) $6/person
  • 8–10 a.m.: Pancakes with Pirates (under the tent) $6/person
  • 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.: Pirate Encampment Stations
  • 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.: Craft and trade vendors open
  • 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.: Dannon Oikos Yogurt — free samples!
  • 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.: Carnival
  • 11 a.m.: Festival Parade
  • 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.: Children’s Area open
  • 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.: Food booths open
  • 12:30 p.m.: Girl Power Fitness
  • 1–2 p.m.: (after Parade) Captain Crudbeard’s Cannon Lessons
  • 1–3 p.m.: Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Tours, 122 Ash St., Lewiston (transportation provided from the Main Gate at Simard-Payne Memorial Park to the Basilica)
  • 1:30 p.m.: Back to School Band
  • 1:50 p.m.: Camp of Rock
  • 3–3:45 p.m.: Pirate Small Arms
  • 4 p.m.: Cold Blue Steel
  • 4–5:30 p.m.: Buccaneer Boot Camp
  • 6 p.m.: Balloon Launch
  • 6 p.m.: Pirates of the Dark Rose — on stage!
  • 7:30 p.m.: Terry and the Telstars
  • 9 p.m.: Moonglow (rain date, if needed)

Auburn

  • 11 a.m.: Festival Parade
  • 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.: Food booths open
  • 12:30 p.m.: Pelletier’s Karate
  • 1:30 p.m.: Brian Patricks
  • 3 p.m.: Cowboy Billy/Malinda Liberty Trio
  • 4:45 p.m.: Zealous Bellus
  • 6:30 p.m.: Twin City Spinners
  • 7:30 p.m.: Big Blue

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