STEVENSVILLE - If balloon rides, beer, barbecue and belt sander races sound appealing to you, Stevensville is the place to be this weekend as the Blacksmith Brewing Company throws their third annual Summerfest party at the St. Mary's Mission Pavilion on Friday and Saturday.
All tips and profits from the festival will go to benefit several local nonprofit organizations: Bang Tail Dog Rescue, Raptors of the Rockies, St. Mary's Mission and the Stevensville Public Pool.
"It's our gift back to the community," said brewery manager Trisha Turner of Blacksmith Brewing. "The whole Summerfest is free to attend, and it's our way of saying thanks for the support throughout the year. We want everybody to have a good time, and I think they will."
The skies above the Bitterroot Valley will be filled every morning with hot air balloons, as balloonists from all over the country converge on the town for the party.
"Some of them are already flying, and more roll in on Friday," Turner said. "They are all staying at the Stevi Hotel. They love it here and a lot of them come back every year."
Balloon launches and rides happen on Friday and Saturday mornings from 5:45 a.m. to 8 a.m., when the air is the calmest.
There is limited space on the balloons, but people can contact the brewery to see if rides are available. There will also be free evening tethered rides for kids at dusk if the weather holds.
Turner said she and other organizers added a couple of new events this year to try to attract a wider audience.
"The belt sander races are new this year," said Turner. "It's the silliest thing, but it's going to be fun. We built a straight track, 40 feet long, and people will be racing modified belt sanders. It's a drag race.
"Also, we started a cribbage tournament. We invited the assisted living center here in town. We're just trying to get a crowd of people to enjoy the whole weekend."
There will be two live bands every evening at the pavilion, and everything from horseshoe tournaments to cowpie bingo during the day. At dusk, the "evening glow," when the balloons are fired up on tethers in the night sky, is a beautiful scene to watch.
"It's the greatest thing," Turner said. "Every year it gets bigger and better, so we're all really looking forward to it. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, so we're hoping for a really good turnout."
For more information visit www.blacksmithbrewing.com or call 777-0680.