Weather Forecast


Hot Air Affair lifts off Feb. 6-8

The M&I Bank commercial aerostat returns as the corporate sponsor balloon at the 20th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair Feb. 6-8. Photo submitted1 / 2
Rubber Duckie balloon2 / 2

The 20th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair is coming to Hudson Feb. 6-8. The "Roaring 20's" is the theme for this year's event, said balloon coordinator Carla Timmerman.

M&I Bank--Hudson is again the major sponsor of the annual balloon rally and winter event and commissioned the commercial balloon banners for the occasion.

The M&I balloon is owned and piloted by Dale Dommer, Ottumwa, Iowa, and the large blue and white M&I banners can be seen from both sides of the 110,000-cubic-foot Cameron envelope. This is Dommer's fourth year at the Hudson Hot Air Affair.

"We're happy to be the Hudson Hot Air Affair corporate sponsor again this year," said M&I Bank--Hudson branch manager Lee Anderson. "Our company and staff like the community event and enjoy being part of the winter celebration."

This year's other commercial balloons are US Bank, Stillwater Balloons and ReMax North Central and ReMax Associates Plus Inc., the owner of the ReMax realty company in Hudson.

The Hot Air Affair is one of the largest winter hot air ballooning events in the country. Special shapes are Rubber Duckie and Biddles.

Balloon launches

Balloon launches highlight Hot Air Affair weekend festivities. Mass ascension launches are planned for 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 7 and 8. An optional flight is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday and the Moon Glow starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

"We're hosting pilots who are returning for the 20th annual rally plus we have one pilot who will be flying for his 20th consecutive year," said balloon coordinator Carla Timmerman. Wynn Gustafson, who also served as balloonmeister in the event's early days, is the Hot Air Affair's 20-year pilot. The Shoreview resident flies Crayola Light.

"The pilots will incorporate the theme into their torchlight parade units and we're expecting some fun Roaring 20s looks this year," Timmerman said.

The theme will be found all around Hudson Air Affair weekend. The Nova will host a speakeasy bar look both Friday and Saturday nights, Feb. 6 and 7. Retailers will host a roaring sale and instant winner button promotion that weekend, and entertainment at E.P. Rock School during the day on Saturday will have a 1920's flavor. A benefit concert is scheduled Saturday night to collect funds for Turningpoint in River Falls and music will be a 1920s style.

Other activities

A sampling of other Hot Air Affair events include a kite display, fireworks, pancake breakfast, crafts for kids, marketplace and craft fair and a chili cook-off. A beginners' geocaching session will be back at E.P. Rock school cafeteria on Saturday, Feb. 7, and more than a dozen new geocaches have been hidden in Hudson in time for the winter event.


The Hot Air Affair doesn't officially start until Feb. 6, but there are many pre-events in January.

  • A children's coloring contest through Jan. 25, with the pictures on display at the YMCA, Hudson Star-Observer and Associated Bank locations through Hot Air Affair.
  • The annual kickoff Friday, Jan. 23, at Dick's Bar & Grill runs from 5-8 p.m. with contests, prizes and themed events. Dick's Bar & Grill is adding a breakfast for kids Saturday, Jan. 24, with a specially priced meal, free helium balloons and hot air balloon baskets on display.
  • The annual candlelight cross country ski and hiking event is moving to YMCA Camp St. Croix from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, with candlelit trails for hiking and skiing, plus trail-side fires and free refreshments. Weather permitting, a tethered hot air balloon will present a night glow. Admission is free.
  • The Phipps Center for the Arts' annual Family Day activity is Sunday, Jan. 25, 2-4 p.m., for children and their families to create roaring lion costumes using recycled and waste materials. Those who would like can wear the costumes as they walk behind "The Phipps is for Kids" banner for the Torchlight Parade Friday, Feb. 6. All materials are provided; call (715) 386-2305 to sign up.
  • The photo contest includes pictures from pre-events and the Hot Air Affair. For contest details, visit


    Anyone interested in volunteering at the Hot Air Affair should leave a message at (715) 381-2050. Volunteers are needed for hot air balloon chase crews, merchandise sales on Saturday at Rock School and other event activities.

  • Advertisement