Balloons and West End celebration on Saturday
September 15, 2023
The festival season continues this weekend, with the West End Celebration in Cloquet on Saturday and the Kismet in Carlton Hot Air Balloon Festival at Black Bear Friday and Saturday.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the West End of Cloquet will turn into a combination street fair and car show, a bustling, pedestrian-friendly festival with plenty to see and do. There will be art and artisans, live music all day, demonstrations, shopping, food trucks and informational booths. Vendors will line Avenue C while remarkable cars park along Avenue B. The VFW parking lot will be transformed into an outdoor food court. Kids can shoot arrows with the Boy Scouts in Wentworth Park, jump in bouncies on Avenue C, do crafts or even ride on a tiny toy train that will travel around the streets while they’re closed to traffic.
“Let’s wake up the West End,” said organizer and Pine Knot advertising director Ivan Hohnstadt. “Everyone is invited.”
Meanwhile, 4 miles away, Black Bear Casino & Resort will be a blaze of color with up to a dozen hot air balloons set up outside and lots happening from noon to midnight both days.
The 2023 Kismet in Carlton Hot Air Balloon Festival is free to attend, and will feature balloon demonstrations, local food trucks, live music, chainsaw carving, tethered balloon rides and a special (but limited) number of balloon trips.
Festival founder and Sweetly Kismet Candy Store owner Jon Parrott said people are drawn to the balloons when they see them.
The festival will begin at noon each day with a pilot meet-and-greet, then the hot air balloons will be inflated, and people can take tethered rides 50-70 feet in the air. Cost is $10 for kids and $20 for adults. The hot air balloons come in a range of sizes and will include at least one special-shaped balloon (named “Lindy”), with a face and arms.
If the weather permits and the evening winds are light and variable, five balloons will launch and go flying, Parrott said, explaining they’ve already filled the limited slots for those rides.
At about 7:45 p.m., everyone will reconvene on the launch field (where the original Black Bear hotel stood).
“Our grand finale is the night glow, when the balloons are lit and inflated,” Parrott said. “It’s a pretty surreal moment to experience. The balloons are illuminated like big luminaries or jack-o’-lanterns.”
Balloons stay up until 9 p.m., while the music runs until midnight both days. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, to better enjoy the bands and balloon watching. Bringing some cash is probably a good idea, since not all the pilots might have credit card machines, he said.
Don’t limit yourselves to one event as summer turns into fall.
Find even more weekend activities see this week's events calendar.