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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Spirit of the Winds

Ken Walter competition flight - Kay's Wind Dancer II
Albuquerque, NM – Over 800,000 spectators filled the grounds during the week of the International Balloon Fiesta to watch 550 balloons lift toward the sky.  Albuquerque, New Mexico has been the destination for the World International Balloon Fiesta since 1972 with representation of over 22 countries at launch for 2014.  Each day was packed with activities including an impressive mass ascension each morning.  This was an amazing and colorful display of balloons as all lifted off when their assigned wave was directed for liftoff by coordinators dressed in black and white outfits designed to resemble ‘zebras.’  A couple of mornings were too strong but the green flag was waving to allow static display of the balloons creating a colorful field.


America’s Challenge Gas Balloons landed safely with the Spanish Team becoming the unofficial winner.  The team landed south-southwest of Lebanon, Kentucky.  The unofficial second place winner was the Poland team with landing at Perryville, MO with traveling 941 miles and 46 hours aloft.  The America’s Challenge was delayed because of winds for lifting off from Saturday evening and final launch taking place early Tuesday morning.

FAI Ballooning International Hall of Fame

Tom Rutherford, Jacques Soukup
Albuquerque, NM - Jan Balkedal of Sweden was the recipient of the FAI Ballooning Commission International Hall of Fame in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the International Balloon Fiesta.  Balkedal has been involved for over thirty years with the Swedish Balloon Federation and has competed in 19 of the 20 World Hot Air Balloon Championships.  Among his list of professions include a professional film producer with award-winning film in 1984 “Balloon Ballet.”


Jacques Soukup was Master of Ceremonies and accepted on behalf of Umberto Nobile induction to the Hall of Fame Honor.  Nobile of Italy was born January 21, 1885 and died July 30, 1978 in Rome, Italy.  Nobile was notably known for his airship development and helped design the airship “O” in 1916 for marine exploration.  Nobile helped to develop a new style of parachute and helped to design a prototype for a helicopter.


Jacques Soukup presented Tom Rutherford a plaque for gratitude as a co-founder of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Rutherford flew the first balloon at the fiesta in 1972 that began the start of the World’s Premier Balloon Event in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ESPN’s “College GameDay”

ESPN's "College GameDay"
Fargo, ND – The second year in a row Fargo, ND hosted ESPN’s “College GameDay.”  North Dakota State University Bison Fans packed the downtown Fargo area with nearly 9,000; twice as many that turned out last year.  Last year was the first time that ESPN hosted “College GameDay” in Fargo.  The Fargo Theatre was the backdrop for the filming of GameDay.  The Bison entered the home opener with 27 consecutive wins and now added another win continuing to add to their FCS record-breaking win streak.


ESPN hosts each Saturday morning during football season with Chris Fowler, Samantha Ponder, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreith, Desmond Howard and David Pollack.  North Dakota State University took victory over Incarnate Word in NCAA Division I FCS football with a score 58-0.  The Gate City Bank Field was a completely sold out with over 19,000 fans.

Hairball Band at Knickerbocker Liquor Locker

Hickson, ND – The night may have turned cold for the evening but that didn’t prevent over 2,500 people to come out and enjoy the tribute band Hairball.  Hairball is a band from Minneapolis, Minnesota that performs acts from the 1970’s and ‘80’s:  KISS, Prince, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper and more.  Hairball has been performing for 14 years across the country.  Pyrotechnics are brought into the mix with technicians that create a mix with smoke, fire, lights that captures the attention of the fans throughout the performance.

Zac Brown Band completes WE Fest successful weekend

Zac Brown Band
Detroit Lakes, Minn. – WE Fest finished the weekend on a high note with Zac Brown Band performing their heart out for the fans that loved every moment.  The strength of Zac Brown with his top-notch band members showed through as they showcased strong proficiency of their instruments from the keyboard, fiddle, guitars, percussion and songwriting.


The diversity of their style and music performed Saturday night went from country music to an encore appearance dressed in skeleton costumes playing music from Pink Floyd’s band.  Zac Brown Band ended the evening with one of their number one hits “Chicken Fried.”  They have taken a number of country awards throughout the years beginning with top new vocal group 2009 and Grammy for best Country Album “Uncaged” 2012.

Brad Paisley - WE Fest class act Friday

Brad Paisley
Detroit Lakes, Minn. – Total coordinated efforts brought the complete performance of Brad Paisley together to a huge crowd hitting close to 50,000 fans.  Paisley had a well-choreographed light show with video going in the background as he performed his hits.  Some videos incorporated skiing, fishing and with humor asked the fans “are there any lakes around here?” Of course with Minnesota known for being the land of 10,000 lakes the crowd loved Paisley’s humor.


Paisley was the headliner for Friday night at WE Fest and showed the strength of his technical command of the guitar and vocal from start to finish. His infectious smile was non-stopped showing Paisley still is having fun performing for fans that truly love his music and personality.  Paisley brought the crowd together with his friendly approach and at one point in the third song “American Saturday Night,” came to the front lower part of the stage to take a selfie with a fan.


Saturday lineup starting at 2:45:  Chris Hawkey, Thompson Square, Travis Tritt, Brantley Gilbert and headliner Zac Brown Band.

The Band Perry performed at WE Fest

The Band Perry
Detroit Lakes, Minn. - Country music The Band Perry played to fans that packed the open-air grounds of WE Fest.  The band is a family group of Kimberly Perry, performing as lead vocal, guitar, piano, Neil Perry on mandolin, drums, background vocal, Reid Perry on bass guitar and background vocal. 


Energy abounded non-stop the entire show the moment the three appeared at the top of a built-up platform and the created atmosphere of lights and smoke started. They performed songs from their albums with number one singles “DONE,” and “Better Dig Two.”  2012 they were awarded Top Vocal Group from the Academy of Country Music Awards amongst numerous other awards and nominations throughout the years.

WE Fest packs in Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean

Florida Georgia Line
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota - High energy impacted the stage when Florida Georgia Line duo hit the stage.  The filled WE Fest grounds were brought to their feet embracing the rhythm of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard with songs from their album “Here’s to the Good Times."  Florida Georgia Line was recognized at CMT Music Awards and won Duo Video of the Year for “Round Here.”


Jason Aldean was the headliner for Thursday evening with a pyrotechnics entrance with flames shooting high on the back portion of the stage.  Aldean ‘Burnin’ It Down” new first single from an upcoming album was sung as the crowd embraced every moment that Aldean was on the stage.  ‘Burnin’ It Down” was produced by Michael Knox,  Aldean’s producer Michael Knox and written by Chris Tompkins, Rodney Clawson and Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.  Aldean received ACM Awards ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ 2014.


Friday’s lineup:  Maiden Dixie, Chris Janson, Randy Houser, The Band Perry and Brad Paisley – all on the main stage.  Chris Janson at 12:30 am at the Barn Stage.


Moondance 23 Jam Rocked

REO Speedwagon
Walker, Minnesota - All factors came together for a perfect weekend at Moondance Jam with a full lineup and over twenty-six thousand jammers plus a large influx of campers on the grounds.  Walker, Minnesota has become a destination for rocking fans that already started making plans for 2015 at local lodging area before checking out.  Moondance Jam has kept the open area to allow lawn chairs for those that want to sit back and enjoy the music as well as allowing fans to walk up to the stage area and embrace the music.  Tribute to Bill Bieloh and a Tribute to the Troops has become a tradition of the Moondance Jam weekend.  Bill Bieloh was a founder of the Moondance Jam along with his wife Kathy.  Kathy has continued the strength and growth of Moondance Jam going forward after Bill passed.


Rock legends performed on the main stage with regional bands at the Saloon Stage, Tiki Bar Stage and Lazy Moon Acoustic Stage accounting for nearly fifty bands.  The teamwork and experienced personnel made the weekend go off seamlessly. 

Wings of Freedom Tour Arrives in Fargo

Fargo, ND - Thursday arrival at the Fargo Air Museum was a step back in the history of WWII for all to see.  The B-17 “Flying Fortress,” B-24 “Liberator” bomber and the P-51 “Mustang” fighter made a powerful entrance into Fargo as they landed for the 4th of July weekend for the public to view and even capture a chance to ride. 


Jim Harley and Don Winden were in the cockpit of the B-24 Liberator as the plane arrived at the airport.  Both Harley and Winden had family members that served in WWII with Winden’s father and uncle who even had a history with the B-24 Liberator. 


There were 18,000 B-24 Liberators built between 1941-1945 with this one that flew into the Fargo Air Museum being the only one that still is flying.  The use of the Davis wing gave the pilots at that time a way to fly faster as they flew through all different theatres such as the Pacific, Italy and Africa with a crew of 10.  The Collins Foundation that sponsors these tours is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to living history events.  If anyone has ever wondered what a flight could be like this would be the time to go to the Fargo Air Museum and purchase a chance to fly; flights are $450 and the P-51 is available for more.

WE Fest - Country Music Festival 2014

Detroit Lakes, MN – WE Fest is one of the oldest and largest country western music festivals in the country.  Fan base continues to grow with over 30 years of country music festival history at WE Fest.  The expected crowd of over 49,000 will start filling the groomed campgrounds August 5th.  Early bird arrivers to the campground will start with an early bird camping party followed by a kick off party August 6th at the barn stage. 


Moondance jammin Country Fest weekend

Justin Moore
Walker, MN – A temperamental weather pattern gave way to a large double rainbow over the main arena as Moondance jammin Country Fest was in full swing with a packed arena of fans.  Friday went off like clockwork with the well-defined organization that Moondance has been noted for.  Entertainers began with Dallas Smith, Jon Pardi, Rodney Atkins and Justin Moore.  Saturday will be filled with performances by Lost Highway, Sarah Darling, Joe Nichols and Hunter Hayes.

Obama in New York Fundraising

New York – President Obama landed in New York on Air Force One and was immediately greeted by a small group of people before boarding Marine One to attend two fundraisers.  Along the route Obama made a brief stop at a Gap store to shop for his wife, Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha.  Gap Inc. is a business that responded to Obama’s request at the State of the Union address to increase wages.


15th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration

New York -
Passion and excitement filled the press conference room at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan for the upcoming Friday night 15th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.  Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the opening prayer of thanks to the players and talked about that there will be no losers with players that give of their talents.  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will be the recipient of the proceeds.

Times Square Rings in 2014 with Miley Cyrus

New York - Times Square may have had freezing temperatures but that didn’t stop over a million people from ringing in the New Year.  Miley Cyrus helped to ring in 2014 with a gold-sequined two-piece and a full-length white fur coat.  Midnight countdown was lead by Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the 2,688 pieces in a triangle shape Waterford Crystal ball dropped.  Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin hosted the evening for the seventh year in a row.

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