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Hot air and hot blues on tap for Balloon Rally
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MONROE - The Monroe Balloon and Blues Festival is back for two days family fun and a spectacular lineup of regional and national blues bands.

Activities will be centered at the Green County Fairgrounds, 2600 10th St., on June 16 and 17 as pilots take to the skies with their colorful hot air balloons. Launches are planned at about 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus 6 a.m. Saturday. Flight patterns follow the prevailing gentle winds over the rolling hills of the Green County countryside. When the propane runs low, pilots keep an eye out for open fields in which to land, providing a spectacle for the onlookers and photographers that follow the flights from the ground.

Always a favorite are the evening "balloon glows" in which tethered balloons are inflated. Glows are planned at dusk Friday and Saturday nights, weather permitting.

In hot air ballooning terminology, the "crown" is the very top of the balloon. This year's crown sponsor for Monroe Balloon and Blues is Emmi Roth USA of Monroe. This designation is especially fitting, as Emmi Roth's Grand Cru cheese currently sits on top as winner of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest. Plans for the weekend include a wheel of Grand Cru being taken on a ceremonial flight over America's Dairyland. Green County is home to more Master Cheesemakers than any other county of the state, and more dairy animals than people.

Local bluesman Jimmy Voegeli of The Jimmys has put together a powerhouse line-up of top -notch blues talent for musical entertainment.

Friday's schedule includes Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, and Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys. Event organizers will again maximize entertainment value with a festival grounds layout allowing blues fans to enjoy the music while keeping an eye to the sky as balloons lift-off.

The Paul Flipowicz Band kicks off the Saturday lineup at 2:30 p.m., followed by Blues Disciples, and Paul Kaye and the Blues Cartel. Balloons will blaze in the background for the evening glow as the Chris O'Leary Band takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday during the day is the Hot Air-Hot Wheels Car Show with vehicles in 21 categories, sponsored by Quest Industrial of Monroe. Food stands will be open all day and local brews will be available in an expanded hospitality beer tent area.

The 2017 Monroe Balloon and Blues Festival is presented by The Arc of Green County, an organization that assists individuals with disabilities, enhancing educational opportunities, independent living, social experiences and general enjoyment of life.

Admission to the fairgrounds is free, with parking on-site for a nominal fee. Free street parking is available around the fairgrounds. For information on Monroe and the Green County area, go to or call 1-888-222-9111 for a visitor guide and map. For the latest schedule of events, go to