A quarter million or so, mostly rural, homes in WI don't have access to natural gas and use propane for heat. The combination of pipeline issues, late crops needing drying, extended record low temps and propane exports lead to Governor Walker declaring a propane state of emergency here. So what do you do when you have a propane-dependent 25th anniversary festival benefiting a city and surrounding area during a propane emergency?
Kind of like working all year on Summerfest and not being able to serve beer at the last minute. Even though it may not have been evident to the casual observer, there were cutbacks to propane usage during last weekend's 25th Anniversary Hudson Hot Air Affair. Very few of the 25 or 30 balloon pilots burned during Friday night's torchlight parade and there was only one scheduled launch during the weekend. Usually during balloon rallies propane is refueled at the sponsor's expense, but this year pilots were limited to whatever they could bring up themselves.
I was invited by Mark to crew for Cloud Nine. Needless to say the weekend went far better than my only other trip to the winter rally. I even got to spend time with Nick, who lives close by in River Falls.