Weather Forecast


Hot Air Affair - pre-events beginning

The Ignite Martial Arts will host their pre-event open house on Saturday, Jan. 25, plus perform at the Hot Air Affair marketplace on Feb. 8 at E.P. Rock School. The group will also do karate kicks down the street during the Hot Air Affair Torchlight Parade on Friday night, Feb. 7. Entertaining shoppers at Family Fresh Market were, from left, Rayna Larsen, Gabriel Franck, Caleb Moore, Abirlan Turner, Eli Moore, Solange Olivier and Kristen Rolfzen.

Even though the Hot Air Affair doesn’t officially start until Feb. 7, January countdown events started last week and will continue the next two weeks for individual and family participation.

—The Ignite Martial Arts Open House is Saturday, Jan. 25, from 1-3 pm at 2421 Hanley Road. Keeping with this year’s movie theme, visitors may attempt their Jackie Chan inspired Obstacle Course. Visitors can learn the Karate Kid kick and channel their inner Bruce Lee — move like water and learn to use a Nunchaku. The business’ Demo Team will perform with board breaking.       

—Dick’s Bar & Grill hosts the annual kick-off event Friday, Jan. 31. Festivities run from 5-8 p.m. with trivia contests, prizes and special “Silver Screen” events. Dick’s Bar is a charter sponsor of the Hot Air Affair, underwriting the appearance of a hot air balloon for all 25 years.

Jim Wohlwend, pilot for charter sponsor Dick’s Bar & Grill, was one of the original pilots in the very first Hot Air Affair in 1990. His sponsor back then was First National Bank. Jim Borchert was the pilot for Dick’s Bar & Grill in 1990 and he’s returning to fly in this year’s Hot Air Affair too.

—A free Family Day Activity will be the final countdown event starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at The Phipps Center for the Arts. As they have done for the past 10 years, the event is inspired by the theme of Hot Air Affair. Participants will make a craft project for the quirky torchlight parade on Feb. 7. All materials are provided for the free hands-on art-making activity; call (715) 386-2305 to sign up.

Hot air balloon crews are needed to help set up, chase and take down balloons. Numerous balloonists travel to Hudson alone from long distances and need local volunteers to help crew for the weekend. Previous balloon crewing experience is preferred but not necessary. Local drivers who know area roads are also needed to assist out of town balloonists. Anyone who would like to crew may call the Hot Air Affair office at (715) 381-2050 or email


Hot Air Affair brochures and event details are available at local businesses and the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau office. Check out the web site at for a complete event schedule.

This year’s brochure has money saving coupons from Pizza Hut, Northland Liquors, Hudson County Market, the Hudson House Grand Hotel, Oakwood Dental, Family Fresh Market—Hudson, New Richmond, River Falls and Farmington, Aamodt’s Hot Air Balloon Rides, Setter’s Liquor, Chicone’s Liquor Mart and Ignite Martial Arts.

The 25th Year Celebration “The Silver Screen” is presented by these underwriters: WESTconsin Credit Union, Freedom Valu Centers, The Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson Star-Observer, Christenson Vision Care and Catalyst Sports Medicine.

The Hot Air Affair Facebook page has the latest news and pictures of countdown and HAA weekend events. As part of the 25th year celebration, the Hot Air Affair committee invites everyone to share their favorite theme, memory or picture on the Hot Air Affair Facebook page. Theme coordinator Cindy Brown Bauer says several favorites from years gone by will be back in 2014.

“Come enjoy the Olympiad Games at E.P. Rock School on Saturday, Feb. 8,” she said. Bauer invites parade participants to sport their favorite “Ugly or Unique Hat” — a popular contest from years ago.

The Hot Air Affair is coordinated by a non-profit community volunteer organization. The event will be posting flight decisions and other timely notices on Facebook and Twitter.

See more photos and information about the Hot Air Affair in this week's print edition of the Hudson Star Observer.