CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A new event is coming to Champaign County next month that will provide both entertainment and charity.

The inaugural Champaign County Balloon Festival is planned for Sept. 23 and 24 at Dodds Park in Champaign. There will be a group balloon launch with up to 16 participating balloons per day along with balloon rides, a balloon glow later in the evenings and a full carnival with rides, games and treats for all ages.

Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Balloon festival’s Facebook page

The festival will not only serve as an entertainment event for families, but also a fundraiser for a variety of children’s services, with emphasis on children with diabetes. Tether Balloon Rides will also be partnering with OSF Healthcare to provide balloon rides to children with disabilities at designated times of the day before the general public is allowed to take a ride.

The event is in partnership with OSF Healthcare. Organizers and OSF are featuring children with disabilities, scheduling with OSF, “should be a unique experience for a lot of those kids and will hopefully light them up like the balloons,” said organizer, Chris Diana

“Come plan to spend the day if you would like, there are enough events and things to do,” he added.

There will be tether rides and time for the public later in the day.

The evening features a spectacular event for the eye said Diana, “All the balloon envelopes are lighted on the ground, and it’s as an impressive sight as the balloons are in flight.”

“A balloon festival is a naturally uplifting and joyful event, which we felt is in keeping with a message of hope and enthusiasm for the children with disabilities we are focusing on supporting – not to mention everyone else in the C-U area, where this will be a new and unique experience,” said Diana.

Diana added, “The evening features a spectacular event for the eye said Diana, “All the balloon envelopes are lighted on the ground, and it’s as an impressive sight as the balloons are in flight.”

Organizers hope this will be the first edition of an annual event. More information and updates about the festival can be found on its website and Facebook page.