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DeKalb airport hosts inaugural Balloons, Brews & Blues

The beer was hoppy and the blues were bluesy over the weekend at the inaugural Balloons, Brews and Blues festival. The balloons, however, were kept on the ground because of the weather.

Saturday’s event was conceived as a way to kickoff the official start of summer.

“Our goal was to create a great family environment where everybody can come out and have a good time,” said Michael Embrey, one of the festival organizers.

At the event, crowds enjoyed live blues, perused the offerings of food and craft vendors and took in the sight of collector cars and military vehicles.

Because of the windy conditions, organizers said the festival did not feature hot air balloon rides as advertised.

“You can’t have wind,” Embrey said. “That’s the problem. When it gets this windy, it just won’t work.”

That did not matter to DeKalb resident Rebecca Kempton.

“The balloons weren’t the draw for me,” she said. “I would’ve come anyway.”

Kempton said she was interested in getting out in the community, enjoying the weather and taking in the sight of the collector cars and military vehicles.

“It’s a good turnout with the blues and brews,” she said.

Embrey said he’s noted there are a lot of community events held in July, but there is a unique void to be filled in June. The lack of June events and a desire to use the airport more was why organizers decided to come together to put on the event.

“The airport was way underutilized, and we thought, ‘What a great venue [where] you get the chance to walk around?’” Embrey said.

Malta resident Granger Gridley enjoyed the site of the collector vehicles and military vehicles, standing next to DeKalb resident Nadia Gomez. Gridley said he first read up on the event while reading the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I like balloons, brews and blues, so I knew one of them had to be good.”

Gomez said she was looking forward to trying the food.

“Tom and Jerry’s is always good,” she said. “I’m glad they’re here.”

Embrey said he was pleased with the turnout for the inaugural event.

“Interesting enough, with all the rain we’ve had, people have been itching to get out and do something,” he said. “This is like the first nice day. Other than the wind, this has worked positively in our favor.”

Embrey said he thinks the event could become an annual tradition.

“I think it works,” he said. “We hope we will be back. It just depends on the city government. They decide they want to do it, we’re bringing it back.”