ANTELOPE ISLAND Hot-air balloons will take to the skies above Antelope Island as the third annual Antelope Island Balloon Stampede launches today.
Festivities, including an opening ceremony with skydivers, get under way at 5 p.m. with tethered balloon flights starting at 6 p.m.
By dusk, balloonists are expected to launch for a balloon glow.
Saturday's events begin at 7 a.m. with the grand ascension of as many of the 20 hot-air balloons as possible. All day at Antelope Island, tethered rides will be available, as well as kite-flying demonstrations, breakfast and lunch, hiking and island exploration and a car show.
The balloonists' evening flight will begin at 6 p.m. with entertainment and vendors on hand until 9 p.m. Organizers expect a balloon glow to happen at dusk.
All events are planned, but the weather can be tricky.
Forecasts from the National Weather Service call for a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms today and Saturday.
In 2007, wind conditions didn't allow Saturday's balloon rides to start until around 9 a.m. In 2006, a storm managed to keep balloons out of the air.
But the event has grown bigger each year, with more on-the-ground activities added each year.
And the Utah Legislature has been kind to the Stampede this year, as well, said Barbara Riddle, marketing director for the Stampede, by donating $25,000 to the event.
"There are a lot of balloon festivals," she said, "but none on an island in the Great Salt Lake, America's Dead Sea."
Davis County commissioners made a $2,000 donation during Tuesday's commission meeting.
Commissioner Alan Hansen rode in a balloon during the 2007 Stampede.
"What a vista," he said. "It's a wonderful place to be."
Thursday, balloonists visited 15 elementary schools around Davis County to teach children about ballooning and to demonstrate how a hot-air balloon works.
If you go ...
What: Antelope Island Balloon Stampede
Directions: From I-15, take the Antelope Drive exit west to the island.
Entry fee: $10.
When: Today, 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m.-dusk
Activities: Balloon launches, tethered balloon flights, vendors, food