U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition this weekend


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John C. Trione Chief Pilot, Lake Geneva Balloon Co.

A week-long celebration of winter in
Lake Geneva

 This week is one of my favorite times of the year in Lake Geneva. It’s Lake Geneva’s Annual Winterfest weekend featuring the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition. The fun thing about this event is there is something for everyone.

Crews spent the last two days building the blocks that the Snow Sculptors will be using for their beautiful creations. The actual sculpting of the snow begins today, Wednesday, Jan. 27th and finishes at 11:00 am on Saturday, Jan. 31st. The snow sculptures are all located on the grounds around the fountain in front of Lake Geneva’s Riviera Docks and Ballroom located on the lakefront of Geneva Lake. You can find out all the details about this year’s event by following this link.

Here is a link to a live cam that overlooks the display area for the competition:

Live Cam view overlooking the Riviera

The ladies and gentleman who come to Lake Geneva each year to create these wonderful works of public art are challenged by whatever weather conditions prevail on that week. Some years, it is cold, snowy and perfect for the sculptors. Some years, however, conditions aren’t perfect. We’ve had warm years and rainy ones too!
But the work continues no matter what the weather conditions are like. As a balloon pilot, I can certainly identify with their hard work being subject to the vagaries of weather.

Last year I took some photos of the sculptures on display. You can find those photos here.

For a short video about U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition click here.

A Havasu family that crews together

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LGB Photo by Mark Russell



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John C. Trione Chief Pilot, Lake Geneva Balloon Co.

You never know what to expect when you get to town

When you are a traveling balloon pilot, you get used to showing up in cities hosting festivals and balloon races and meeting a sponsor and hopefully some local crew people to help you in a city with unfamiliar flying attributes. Sometimes you luck out and the sponsors and local crew are really into the event and helping out. Sometimes they don’t even show up and you’re left to fend for yourself and recruit your own crew for the duration of the event.

The Lake Geneva Balloon Co. traveled south to Lake Havasu City, AZ for The Havasu Balloon Fest Jan. 16 through Jan. 18, 2015. I went as the Pilot in Command and Mark Russell, a 15-year veteran Crew Chief tagged along to manage the crew.

Luckily for Mark and I, we were paired at The Havasu Balloon Fest with Mr. Bill Masche from Thunderbird Development as our sponsors. Bill, his son Bobby and the crew at Thunderbird came out and supported all 6 flights and our glow! They even brought out their families. What a wonderful time we had with these hard-working, but easy-going folks. It made our flights amongst the most enjoyable set of flights I’ve made in 17 years of competing at festivals around the country.

Balloon festivals count on the support of sponsors to pay the expenses of pilots and crews who bring their balloons into town. These expenses run into the thousands for each balloon that flies at a festival such as The Havasu Balloon Fest. Many times the businesses that support the festival are local, independent businesses that have long ties to the community.

In the case of Bill, he arrived in Havasu City when the population was 15,000. Served on the police force for over 27 years and now runs a successful firm building commercial and residential properties. He had never been around a balloon before, but after his first flight (taken somewhat reluctantly), he admitted that he loved flying in a balloon! He is already to commit for Havasu Balloon Fest 2016!

We’re so happy to have met Bill, his family and his crew at Thunderbird Development. We’re hoping that we’ve added a few new members to our crew and to the sport of hot air ballooning. It’s true that you never know who you’re going to meet when you get into a new town. Sometimes it becomes good friendship.

You can see our photos from our trip to Lake Havasu City right here:
Havasu Balloon Fest Photos