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Bulldog takes flight

Buster the British bulldog set for lift-off at the Wairarapa Balloon Festival next month. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A British bulldog-shaped balloon, complete with a three-metre-long floppy tongue, will be one of the star attractions at the Wairarapa Balloon Festival next month.

All the way from Bristol, England, Buster the canine would be one of at least three special-shape balloons for the five-day festival over Easter Weekend.

The other special shaped balloons are a house, making a return from last year, and a van.

At least 16 balloons have been confirmed.

Although a relatively recent arrival on the international scene, Buster has been flown throughout Europe, Mexico, USA, Thailand, and Taiwan.

The Wairarapa festival would be the first time Buster has been let free in Australasian skies.

Pilot and owner Paul Burrows said he was excited to bring Buster to Wairarapa.

He piloted last year’s headline special shape balloon Busby the Queen’s Guard.

This year marks the 21st birthday of the annual show in Wairarapa and the fourth consecutive year and last as event organiser for Robyn Cherry-Campbell.

“I have loved every minute of being involved in the festival, and I’m really hoping that this one, my last, will be the best yet,” she said.

The festival opens with a “mass ascension” from Queen Elizabeth Park in Masterton on Thursday, April 9, followed by early morning lift-offs in Carterton, Greytown, and Martinborough over the following days.

There will be other free events throughout the festival, giving everyone the chance to meet the pilots and walk through an inflated balloon envelope.

The showpiece of the festival would be the Night Show on Saturday, April 11, at Solway Showgrounds in Masterton, which in recent years has attracted crowds of up to 15,000 people.

  • Full details are available at nzballoons.co.nz

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