Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
|Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival|
The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival is held annually, the first weekend of June at Lake Skinner Recreation Area in the Temecula Valley AVA of Southern California. The event features morning balloon launches, evening balloon glows, wine tasting from more than 20 wineries, wine competition, food and wine pairing, concerts featuring country on Friday, Classic Rock and Rock on Saturday, and Jazz on Sunday. There is also a giant arts and craft faire, kids faire, and fine art paintings on exhibit within the wine gardens.
The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, then known as the Rancho California Balloon and Wine Festival, was started in 1983 by Walt Darren, a commercial airline pilot and avid balloonist and by Evelyn Harker a veteran event organizer and fund raiser. The seed money was provided by Kaiser Development Company and sponsors came from the local community giving what they could with many contributions consisting of in-kind services and products.
At this time, there were only six wineries in the region. (There are over 40 wineries in the region now.) The first Balloon and Wine Festival was launched in the Spring of 1984 and was a monumental success for a town of only 9,000 residents. More than 4,000 people were in attendance that year as 35 balloons were launched from the Rancho California Plaza area off Ynez Road (now Tower Plaza).
As the Festival grew, music was added and the event was moved to the Sports Park. In 1986 as the event continued to grow, it was moved to Cherry Street and the first ever poster contest was held. During 1987-1988, the Festival was moved back to the Sports Park and in 1989, it was moved to its current location at Lake Skinner. In 1988, the Festival featured live entertainment with the Coasters and Little Anthony and the Imperials. In 1991, the Beach Boys entertained.
Today's concerts are held on two stages. Recent years have included Blake Shelton, Kenny Loggins, Sugar Ray, Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, James Otto, Chuck Wicks, Peter Frampton and Five for Fighting. The event also includes a freestyle motocross show on Sunday.
In 1991 the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival Association was formed when the Chamber of Commerce ceased producing the event. The mission statement of this new non-profit charitable organization was (and still is) to enhance the charitable, cultural, educational and economic development of the region.
During the 1992-1993 Festival years, no hot air balloons were launched but a balloon glow was presented by Paradise Chevrolet in 1993. While the theme of hot air balloons and wine has always served to anchor the event, each year new attractions have been introduced.
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