Middletown' Ohio Challenge Brings More Than Just Balloons


MIDDLETOWN, OH -- During Middletown's 2-day Ohio Challenge, Smith Park turns into a festival of hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, plane rides, carnival rides, food trucks, virtual plan jumps, a car show and fireworks and drone show. While many of the activities are subject to weather, the good news is the weather looks great both days according to iPhone Weather App: Sunny both days and in the high 80's.  

Included with all the balloons, food vendors and rides, the Ohio Challenge offers festive goers the opportunity to take to the sky, too. For an extra fee of $25 to $189, a person can soar over the festival in one of the Butler County Warbirds "marvelous machines from a different time." The three historical planes that will be on hand are: 

  • 1943 Fairchild PT-19
  • CESSNA C-172
  • 1941 Aeronca L-3 Defender

To experience the feel of a hot air balloon ride, there will be multiple balloons giving tethered ballon rides. (A tethered balloon is a hot air balloon that only goes up and down. It does not travel any horizontal distance for it is "tethered" to the ground.) The cost for this experience is $20/person and multiple people can ride together. 

The tethered balloon gives the rider the feeling of a balloon ride, and it might also fly the memory back to the hit song "Up, Up and Away" by the Grammy winning group The 5th Dimension. (To hear the song click on the photo to link to the Youtube.)

Next is Team Fastrax™ Skydiving. Team Fastrax™ is the largest professional parachute demonstration team in the world and can be seen in numerous movies, commercials with its world class stunt team performing in multiple television shows. Also, noteworthy is the fact that Middletown Airport is where Team Fastrax™ has its official training center and home base. 

The Fastrax™ Skydivers are scheduled to bring three spectacular shows both Friday and Saturday to Middletown's Ohio Challenge. While it's still daylight the parachuters will take to the sky to perform The American Flag Jump that brings down a giant flag. 

The American Flag Jump at Ohio Challenge 2023.

Next, prior to the Balloon Glow, Team Fastrax Skydivers are scheduled to take a second jump where skydivers will do different stunts. Then, in-between the Balloon Glow and fireworks show is the amazing Team Fastrax Pyrotechnics Jump... yes, parachuters jumping out of the plane with pyrotechnics attached and shooting off them.  

Photo courtesy of Team Fastrax of a Pyrotechnics Jump

"We donate our performances for the community to enjoy," explained Team Fastrax member John P. Hart II. 

The festival is open 5pm to 10:30pm Friday, July 19th and 4pm to 10:30pm Saturday, July 20th.  No personal canopies/tents will be permitted inside the park.
Prices as follows:

  • Walk-in $10/person (Children 12 & under free)
  • Handicap $20/car (Handicap sticker required)
  • Park – N – Ride $20/car (Free shuttle bus to park included)
  • Premium On-site Parking $40/car

Inside Park Shuttle service will be available at 3 locations for pick up and drop off- Available until Dusk. For more information visit ohiochallenge.com.

Special Shape Balloons Inflation seen at the 2023 Ohio Challenge,

FRIDAY - Gates Open at 5PM

  • 5:15 - 10:30PM — Phillips Tube Group Carnival Rides, CBI Kids Zone, Craft Vendors, Food Vendors
  • 5:15 - 9:30PM — Airplane Rides by Butler County Warbirds
  • 6:00PM — Opening Ceremonies - Main Stage
  • 6:20PM — Team Fastrax American Flag Jump
  • 7:00PM — Balloon Fluff & Puff Walk Thru - next to main launch area
  • 7:00 - 10:30PM — Jake Sweeney Tethered Rides (subject to weather conditions)
  • 7:00 - 8:45PM — Balloon Flight
  • 7:00 - 8:45PM — Cronin Ford Key Grab Hot Air Balloon Task
  • 7:30PM — Special Shape Balloons Inflation
  • 8:30PM — Team Fastrax Skydiving
  • 9:15 - 9:45PM — Balloon Glow
  • 10:00PM — Team Fastrax Pyrotechnics Jump
  • 10:15PM — Fireworks and Cohen Drone Show

SATURDAY - Gates Open at 4PM

  • 6:30 - 8:30am — Balloon Flight into/out of Smith Park
  • 4:00 - 8:00pm — Antique Car Show
  • 4:30 - 10:30pm — Phillips Tube Group Carnival Rides, CBI Kids Zone, Craft Vendors, Food Vendors
  • 4:30 - 9:30pm — Airplane Rides by Butler County Warbirds
  • 6:00pm — Opening Ceremonies - Main Stage
  • 6:20pm — Team Fastrax American Flag Jump
  • 7:00pm — Balloon Fluff & Puff Walk Thru - next to main launch area
  • 7:00 - 10:30pm — Jake Sweeney Tethered Rides (subject to weather conditions)
  • 7:00 - 8:45pm — Balloon Flight
  • 7:00 - 8:45pm — Cronin Ford Key Grab Hot Air Balloon Task
  • 7:30pm — Special Shape Balloons Inflation
  • 8:30pm — Team Fastrax Skydiving Jump
  • 8:40 - 9:00pm — Celebrating Cohen - 100 years of Recycling
  • 9:15 - 9:45pm — Balloon Glow
  • 10:00pm — Team Fastrax Pyrotechnics Jump
  • 10:15pm — Fireworks and Cohen Drone Show

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