Expo officials cite costs and weather as reasonsESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. After two years of less-than perfect conditions for flying, officials at Champlain Valley Exposition announced it will not hold the Vermont Balloon and Music Festival.The annual event, traditionally held the first weekend of June, began in 2003 and featured about 40 hot-air balloons, a carnival, specialty vendors and concerts at 130-acre Champlain Valley Exposition. The first two years saw nearly perfect weather and many memorable hot-air balloon launches, concerts and a balloon-glow that the balloonists themselves described as one of the best ever. However, in 2006 and again last year, unsettled weather conditions during the three-day festival kept the balloons grounded more times than not and weekend attendance suffered. We just were not able to catch a break on the weather last year, said Tom Oddy, Director of Special Events for the Exposition. Hot-air balloons need clear skies and calm winds just after sunrise and just before sunset to safely launch.Despite our best efforts — and the support of some great presenting partners and sponsors — what people really wanted to experience at the festival was seeing the colorful hot-air balloons and special shape balloons, inflate, take off and fly, Oddy said.Despite the cancellation of the Vermont Balloon and Music Festival, hot-air ballooning enthusiasts still have several opportunities in the region to see the balloons fly: Quechee (Vt.) Balloon and Craft Festival on June 13-15; Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival in Stowe on July 11-13; and The International Balloon Festival at Saint Jean-Sur-Richelieu in Quebec on Aug. 9-17. We know Vermonters and especially our neighbors in Chittenden County love to see the balloon floating over their neighborhoods, so we are talking with several of Vermonts local hot-air balloon pilots about incorporating a launch or two into the Fairs schedule this year, according to Champlain Valley Exposition General Manager David F. Grimm. A local balloonist flew over the Fair as the sunset last year and it was a beautiful sight. Its one we hope to repeat again this August.For more information about the upcoming 2008 events at Champlain Valley Exposition, visit www.cvexpo.org(link is external) and sign up for the free online newsletter to get early concert announcements, special discount offers and advance tickets.