Courier Staff Writer
A new citywide scavenger hunt will act as a fundraiser to benefit the Ottumwa Pro Balloon Races this summer.
The Cannonball Balloon Road Rally fundraiser will be held on April 20 throughout Ottumwa.
“We’re doing a fundraiser to pay for the sound equipment for the event we hold every year,” said Holly Dommer, co-chairperson of the event.
It’s similar to the former Caravan Crusade, Dommer said, which was organized by the Ottumwa Service League several years ago.
The goal this year is to raise between $2,000 and $3,000.
“We’re really excited because we’ve never done anything like this before,” she said.
Groups can form teams — “however many you can fit in your car responsibly,” Dommer said — to tackle the Ottumwa-wide scavenger hunt.
“They’ll get clues, which will take them where they have to go,” Dommer said. “When they get there, they have to complete a task before they can get the clue for the next stop.”
The hunt will have 10 stops, each stop containing an envelope. Once the teams have completed all 10 tasks, they will end the night with a party at Courtside Bar and Grill, which will feature raffles and celebrity bartenders.
A buffet dinner of barbecue pulled chicken, tenderloins, French fries and cottage cheese will also be included in the cost of admission.
“With Caravan Crusades, they never told you where the party was at the end,” Dommer said. “We’re telling people it’s at Courtside, so if they don’t want to go to the rally, they can pay $10 and go only to the dinner and still show their support of the balloon races.”
The balloon races received a lot of new local business sponsors this year.
“And again this year we will be the [Balloon Federation of America’s] state championship race,” Dommer said. “The winner of our event this year will get a spot in the national championship event next year.”
The goal is to snag 40 pilots for the event, a few more than the event saw last year. So far, 30 pilots have signed up.
“One thing we promote is we are the only balloon event that doesn’t charge admission in the state, so we’ve never asked the community to buy tickets, other than balloon sponsorships from local businesses,” Dommer said. “That’s how we get the money to run our event.”
Dommer said the committee mulls over the idea of charging admission every year, but it would be difficult due to the location of the races in Ottumwa Park.
“There are so many entrances and exits, and the campers have already paid to camp,” she said. “There’s a lot of levels to it.”
This will mark the 36th year for the balloon races, “the longest-running weekend event in the state of Iowa,” she said.
Again this year, the balloon races, which run from June 19-23, will feature an Ottumwa Shrine Club dinner, carnival, bike night, kiddie tractor pull, chili cook-off, wine tasting, municipal band performance, other bands performing the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the event, as well as fireworks.
“It’s one of the biggest events in Ottumwa,” she said. “It’s the one time a year our campground is totally full. And pilots don’t come by themselves — they bring their wives, their kids. They bring lots of revenue into the town for the weekend.”
Cannonball Balloon Road Rally fundraiser
5 p.m. Saturday, April 20
$20 per person if signed up before April 17; $30 per person after that date
Teams sign in starting at 5 p.m. in Beach Ottumwa parking lot; scavenger hunt will lead teams across the city
Party at end of event to be held at Courtside Bar and Grill
To register, fill out the registration and liability forms on www.ottumwaproballoonrace.weebly.com.
Those with questions about the fundraiser or the balloon races can call Holly or Dale Dommer at 641-684-8999.