Bloomington locals and IU students gathered for free live music and hot air balloon rides at 7 p.m. Thursday evening in Dunn Meadow during the fifth annual Lotus in the Meadow outdoor concert. IU Late Nite and the Indiana Memorial Union partnered with the Lotus Festival to host the event.
Each year, IU brings in a massive, cream and crimson colored hot air balloon to give students and visitors a free lift into the sky over Dunn Meadow. As the sun set across Bloomington, students got to view campus from above the treetops. For many of those passengers, it was the first time they had ever gotten to ride in one.
IU freshman Delaney Knoebel was walking to dinner on Kirkwood Avenue with friends when she passed a SkyCab truck parked in the meadow, from the hot air balloon company that her cousin just so happens to manage. Despite the family connection, Knoebel had never ridden in one before. Knoebel and friends said they enjoyed their first-time balloon experience, particularly the sights.
“It was a very nice view of campus,” Knoebel said.
The flight wasn’t entirely peaceful for newcomers, though. A loud, hot gust of fire must be released into the balloon for it to rise.
“I thought my hair was going to catch on fire,” Knoebel’s friend, IU freshman Ella Leitner said laughing.
IMU intern and senior Destinee Clayton watched the festivities from a booth. She said Lotus in the Meadow works to give students a taste of what the Lotus Festival will be like. Clayton said she’s excited for the various international music acts that will visit Bloomington on Sept. 29.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the different artists they’ll have,” Clayton said. “They bring in some big names.”
Under white canopies, volunteers with Lotus Festival and the IMU gathered to share information with guests about the upcoming 30th annual Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, which kicks off at the end of September. Lotus Community Engagement Director Jill Campbell said she hoped to meet IU students during the event to teach them about the festival and connect them with volunteer opportunities.
Campbell said this year’s Lotus Festival lineup will feature a variety of musical artists. In particular, she wants to see Haitian music group RAM, all-women Afro-Colombian percussion group La Perla and Arabian psychedelic rock group Al-Quasar.
Making Movies performed late Thursday at the Dunn Meadow event. The group, native to Kansas City, MO, is known for their distorted rock sound that melds African percussion with Latin American rhythm. Campbell said the group’s performance perfectly matched the feeling at Lotus in the Meadow – and hopefully got students excited about the upcoming festival.
“Making Movies is a pretty high-energy band,” she said. “It’s a really good fit for the venue.”
Bloomington will celebrate the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival from Sept. 28–Oct. 1. Tickets are available online at the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation website.