Meadville Tribune


May 30, 2014

Thurston Classic memorabilia purchases assure event remains in Meadville annually

MEADVILLE — Buying a Thurston Classic shirt or hat helps keep hot air balloons flying over Meadville at no cost to the public, according to officials of the Classic.

The sale of souvenirs from the annual Thurston Classic hot air balloon event help offset the expenses associated with the free four-day event, scheduled this year for June 12 to 15.

Those expenses include attracting more than two dozen hot air balloons and their pilots annually and housing and feeding them.

The Thurston Classic’s annual budget runs between $45,000 to $50,000, according to Joyce Stevens, its co-chair along with Ted Watts.

“We need to sell souvenirs to keep it going,” Stevens said. “The (sale of) souvenirs will earn an average of $6,000, but it depends on the weather for the classic itself.”

Sunny skies and just slight breeze are ideal flying conditions for the balloons — and selling of souvenirs, too.

“In better weather we sell more,” Stevens said.

Souvenir shirts and hats for the 2014 Thurston Classic are on sale now during regular business hours at the Market House on Market Street in downtown Meadville, according to Amy Wellington Fuller, chair of the souvenir committee.

The souvenirs are also sold during the four-day event at Allegheny College’s Robertson Field Complex off Park Avenue. The Robertson Field Complex serves as the site of the Thurston Classic.

There is also an online store for souvenirs at, Fuller said.

T-shirts are $12 in children’s sizes, $15 in adult sizes and $17 for adult XXL and larger, Fuller said. There also are polo-style shirts for adults at $25 each, she said. Hats are $15 each.

One thing missing from this year’s souvenir lineup is a lapel pin, as the Classic is trying to pare down some of its inventory. Fuller said.

“But, if there is enough interest we may do a special order,” she said of 2014 Thurston Classic pins.

Thurston Classic schedule of events

The Thurston Classic is a free event held at Allegheny College’s Robertson Field Complex off Park Avenue in Meadville. All balloon events are weather permitting.

Food, drink and children’s entertainment are available at the events below. Donations are needed for the Thurston Classic to continue, and souvenirs are for sale.

June 12

7:30 to 9 p.m.: Live entertainment by The RiffRiders.

Approximately 9:30: Night Glow begins at dusk. Balloons are tethered to the ground and light up. The event lasts approximately 15 minutes.

June 13

Sponsors’ Flight

6:15 p.m.: Balloons launch from Robertson Field.

June 14

Race No. 1

7 a.m.: Launch sites are determined by pilots. Pilots will attempt to fly directly over Robertson Field and drop a bean bag at a target on the ground.

June 14

Race No. 2

6:15 p.m.: Balloons launch from Robertson Field. Pilots will fly toward an unknown target, which is chosen by the first balloon launched. Each following pilot then will toss a bean bag at the target that is on the ground.

June 15

Race No. 3

7 a.m.: Launch sites are determined by pilots. Pilots will attempt to fly directly over Robertson Field and drop a bean bag at a target on the ground.

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