The 14th Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival was held on 25-27 April 1997 at Lake Skinner in southwestern Riverside County, May 1-2 in 1999, and June 9-11, 2000. They will try for the third weekend in May in future years.
The 1997 Festival featured more than 50 hot air balloons and samples from 10 wineries. 1997 events included:
The Grape and Wine Race - formerly known as the Hare and Hound Race - has the first balloon - the "Grape" - take off with 50 others following. When the "Grape" lands, the other pilots try to toss a bean bag marker as close to that landing spot as they can. The winner gets the top cash prize from the $5,000 pot. The commercial balloons that offer rides trail alongside the racing balloons.
Admission was $5 for children 7 to 12 on Saturday and Sunday; $15 for adults on Saturday; $13 for adults on Sunday; free for children under 7. Capacity is 30,000 people or when the 36-acre parking lot fills up. There are 400 campsites available, which sold out in two hours in 2000.
Directions: From I-15, take the Rancho California Road or Winchester Road exits and go east. Follow signs to Lake Skinner. Those arriving on Saturday in the late morning faced traffic delays of up to 20 minutes, and one woman who left Temecula at 12:30 p.m. said she spent an hour and half in traffic.
More info: 909-676-6713.
Sources of information: NCT 3/16/00; NCT 1/3/99, B2; SDUT and NCT, 4/27/97, B5, and earlier editions.
Copyright © 1997-2000 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 20 March 2000.