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Airganic Garden balloon returns to Hot Air Affair

Airganic Garden hot air balloon returns to Hudson winter event

Family Fresh Market's Airganic Garden balloon will be back at the Hudson Hot Air Affair Feb. 1-3. The winter festival and hot air balloon rally is presented by WESTconsin Credit Union--Hudson and features about 30 commercial, regular and special shaped hot air balloons this year.

Airganic Garden, sponsored by Family Fresh Market of Hudson, New Richmond, River Falls and Farmington, was a hit in 2012 putting on a display at both the E.P. Rock School launch field during the day and the Saturday night Moon Glow. Balloons were not able to fly in 2012's Hot Air Affair because of warm weather causing fog, low visibility and mud on the launch field and landing sites.

The Airganic Garden balloon features state of the art inkjet printing for the attention getting design that includes three 10- to 22-foot tall monarch butterflies, two 14-foot tall tomatoes, a 25-foot apple basket, strawberries, peaches, cinnamon sticks, a classic barn, five cows grazing and two horses on vivid blue and green background.

The pilot will be Bennett Schwontkowski of Cary, Ill., a long-time pilot at Hudson Hot Air Affair. As a commercially licensed pilot, he's logged thousands of flights during the past 25 years. He's flown at all major hot air balloon events over the years, including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the Kentucky Derby Festival, Battle Creek Michigan Balloon Championships and the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

Family Fresh Markets are coordinating a contest to win a flight in the balloon during the 2013 Hudson Hot Air Affair, weather permitting. They will also host a pre-event at the Hudson store location on Saturday, Jan. 19 featuring food tastings and entertainment.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the 24th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair should leave a message at (715) 381-2050 or through the Hudson Hot Air Affair's Facebook page. Volunteers are needed for hot air balloon chase crews and other event activities.