Banner year for Page Balloon Regatta and Street Fair
Page’s power to attract visitors was on full display at this year’s Balloon Regatta and Street Fair from Nov. 2-5. The Gobbler Cup Softball Tournament at Page Sports Complex made it a triple-header weekend.
Lynn Cormier, director of community engagement for the City of Page, said 66 hot air balloons participate this year. On Saturday evening, 21 balloons lit up Lake Powell Boulevard for the annual Balloon Glow.
City Manager Darren Cold said 32 softball teams were also in town, and “all the hotels were nearly sold out.”
The most notable increase in downtown foot traffic was the Balloon Regatta Street Fair on Elm Street. Visitors kept the street venders busy all day and late into the night. When the Balloon Glow began, the intersection of Elm Street and Lake Powell Boulevard was the busiest part of town.
“We estimate there was about 16,000 people out there,” said Page Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Franz.
Franz has watched the annual Street Fair grow during the 10 years she’s run it. Before 2013, the event was held at the airport. Remembering her first Street Fair, “Vendor-wise, we probably had about 40 vendors, tops,” she said. “I would say we had, people-wise, maybe about 2,000-3,000.”
“This one we had 93 [vendors], but several of them had several booths,” said Franz. “We took up the entire street. We turned away over 40 vendors. We had 40 vendors that still wanted to get in, and we had no room.”
With multiple events, like the softball tournament, in addition to other popular attractions like Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend, city and chamber organizers have their work cut out for them to keep up with the demand.
“So we’re getting with the city to see what our options are, what we can do to maybe expand it out more because more vendors want in,” said Franz.
“Also, to make sure that we have more room for a lot of people, because even, like, at the Beer Garden, we had nine bands this year, and we were wall to wall people in the Beer Garden. There were so many people in there. So we’re trying to figure out where can we go? Because we’re growing with this thing and it’s getting bigger and bigger and we need to try to expand it. So we met with the city, with Page PD yesterday and talked a little bit about that. And then we’re going to get with the City of Page after the first of the year and start looking at what our options might be.”
It’s too early to say how Page will accommodate the increasing numbers, but Franz has a few ideas, including wrapping the street fair around Block 17, the shopping area between Elm Street and N. Navajo Drive. This would increase walking exposure to some of Page’s top restaurants.
“Or maybe we go up to John C. Memorial Park at this point,” said Franz. “Or something on 6th? We don’t know. We really have to see what the options are, what’s going to be doable. And the main thing we want to make sure, too, is that wherever we go, we have good security, we have everything covered, so everybody can come and enjoy, [and] not have to worry about anything.”
Franz sees the Regatta as “almost a monster,” but she thinks that’s a good sign and she’s ready to tame it.
“Several people commented, too, that it was so crowded and they had to stand in line. And my comment back to that is that’s a good thing. That means we have really grown and gotten bigger and bigger. So we just have to continue to grow with it, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
The Beer Garden raised $2,976 for page Animal Adoption Center. “That’s the highest that I’ve seen on a fundraiser like that for the Beer Garden, said Franz. “So that was great. We gave her check for that. LP Espresso, they were great. They did a great job.”
Franz had a lot of help, of course. She wants to acknowledge Joe Lapekas, Bubba Ketchersid, Jim Flynn, Chris Pottorff, Cindy Scott, Craig Simmons, Paul Meehan, Chris Van Meenen, Brenda Dominick and volunteer Danny Franzen. And a special thanks to Page Police Department and Page Fire for all their help.