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MONROE BALLOON AND BLUES FESTIVAL – HOT AIR, HOT BLUES, COOL BREWS

EVENT CONTACT:  Nick Faessler, 608.214.3852, nfaessler@wildblue.net

MEDIA CONTACT:  Noreen Rueckert/Green County Tourism, 608.328.1838, tourism@greencounty.org

Monroe, Wisconsin – May 5, 2016 – Hot air, hot blues, and cool brews – the winning combination for fun in Monroe, Wisconsin on June 17-18.

The Monroe Balloon and Blues Festival is back!  Get ready for two days of high altitude family fun and free musical entertainment, along with fun food and local brews.

After a one-year hiatus, the Green County Fairgrounds in Monroe will again be buzzing with excitement on June 17 and 18 as pilots take to the skies with their colorful hot air balloons.  Launches are planned for 6 pm on both days plus Saturday morning at 6 am, with flights patterns following the prevailing gentle winds over the Green County countryside.  When the propane runs low, pilots keep an eye out for open fields to land; providing a spectacle for the onlookers and photographers that follow the flights from the ground.  Always a favorite, evening “balloon glows” are planned for 8:30 pm on both Friday and Saturday.

But the weekend just keeps getting better!  Local bluesman Jimmy Voegeli has worked his mojo to put together a stellar lineup of blues bands to get the crowds groovin’.  The Leman Quartet leads off with some swingy, bluesy jazz and bop on Friday at 7 pm.  Their song “Boom Boom – Out Goes the Lights” offers a taste of things to come.  After the sun goes down the pilots will fire up their tethered balloons to provide a scenic backdrop as local favorite Birddog Blues Band takes the stage at 8:30 pm – with licks and riffs on the harp from Ken “Birddog” Olufs and sultry power vocals from Jennifer DePrez.  Fest organizers are maximizing the entertainment value by locating the stage nearby the balloon glow so attendees can enjoy both at once.  Spend the evening; food and beer will be available.

Left Wing Bourbon Band kicks off the Saturday lineup at 2:30 pm – mixing soul and boogie with funky blues.  Green County’s favorite piano playing dairy farmer Jimmy Voegeli brings his band The Jimmys to the stage at 4:30 pm.  Recently voted “Best Horn Band” at the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards, The Jimmys are also in the spotlight for their critically acclaimed recent CD release “Hot Dish”.  Brent Johnson and the Call Up bring their New Orleans style swagger to Wisconsin for a set that starts at 6:30 pm.  The final band of the evening features vocalist Michael Ledbetter (a descendant of legendary folk and blues musician Lead Belly) and the blazing fretwork of guitar master Nick Moss.  The Nick Moss Band plays from 8:30 until 10 pm – again with balloons blazing in the background for the evening glow.

Also on Saturday is the Hot Air Hot Wheels Car Show (with vehicles in 21 categories) and fun and games for the kids.  New this year – Green County Gran Fondue – a cycling event fundraiser with proceeds benefitting area cancer patients via Monroe Clinic & Hospital Foundation Cancer Fund.  Food stands and local brews available all day.

The 2016 Monroe Balloon and Blues Festival is presented by Arc of Green County, an organization providing funding for area handicapped and disabled individuals.  Arc of Green County is currently seeking balloon sponsors who will enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being part of a balloon crew.

Admission to the Green County Fairgrounds (2600 – 10th St.) is free, with parking onsite for a nominal fee.  Free street parking is also available.  For information on lodging in the Monroe and Green County area go to www.greencounty.org; or call 1.888.222.9111 for an area visitor guide, lodging options and map.  For an updated schedule of events go to www.monroeballoonrally.com.

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