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Hot air balloons take off during last year's Northwest Art & Air Festival at Timber-Linn Park in Albany. This year's edition kicks off again on Friday. 

The E, File photo

When 36 hot air balloons take off from Albany's Timber-Linn Park early Friday morning, the 18th annual Northwest Art and Air Festival will officially be underway.

The end-of-summer event returns with three days of live music, including a Saturday night performance by 38 Special, plus daily arts and crafts booths, food and drink vendors, kids activities, and the balloons lighting up the night sky during Friday's Night Glow.

Variety is a staple of the festival, says Lynne Smith, event and program coordinator with Albany Parks and Recreation.

"We pride ourselves in having something for everyone," she said. "All of this is offered free of charge."

Friday, Aug. 25

The balloon launches begin at 6:45 a.m. each day. "Pencil Boy" and "Off the Wall" are the two new specialty balloons joining this year, Smith said.

The festival itself begins at 4 p.m. Art and food vendors open along with the festival stage wine and microbrew garden (4-10 p.m.), and the Red Robin Family Zone (4-7 p.m.). Oregon country band Showdown performs at 5 p.m. on the OFD Foods Festival Stage.

Super Diamond, a San Francisco-based Neil Diamond tribute band, performs from 7:30 p.m. to dusk, leading up to the Night Glow presented by Santiam Excursion Trains.

Saturday, Aug. 26

It is recommended people pick up their wristbands for the evening's 38 Special concert when gates open at 10 a.m. Art and food vendors and the Red Robin Family Zone (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) open at 10 a.m. The Young Eagles flights begin at the airport, 310 Waverly Drive NE, Albany (registration begins at 9 a.m.). The festival stage wine and microbrew garden opens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Music and other performances begin on the OFD Foods Festival Stage at noon with Grupo Condor followed by a juggling act, The Curt Show (1:30-2:30 p.m.).

A new interactive live animal show called "Creature Teachers," will be performed this year, Smith said. It invites kids and families to learn about and touch often feared and misunderstood creatures like spiders and snakes. It's from 3 to 4 p.m.

Portland acoustic pop artist Jacob Westfall will play two sets (4:30-5:30 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.) with Portland country band Sacred Road performing in between.

Headliner 38 Special will play the main stage starting at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 27

A classic car show is set for 9 a.m. The Young Eagle Flights return to the airport. Art and food vendors and the Red Robin Family Zone open at 10 a.m. The festival stage wine and microbrew garden opens from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Another installment of "Creature Teachers" is presented from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. followed by a big band performance by the 234th Army Band at 1 p.m. The festival concludes at 3 p.m.

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