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Festival at Luray Caverns celebrates Shenandoah Valley landmark

August 08, 2005

LURAY, Va. - The Blues, Bluegrass and Balloon Festival at Luray Caverns takes place Friday, Aug. 12, Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug. 14. Celebrating the 127th year of discovery for this world-renowned Shenandoah Valley landmark, up to a dozen hot-air balloons will launch the festivities from the adjacent Shenk Farm at Luray Caverns on Friday evening.

Balloon launches along with the scheduled Purple People Eater balloon, will take flight on Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., weather permitting.

Afternoon activities on Saturday and Sunday will include blues and bluegrass headliners to include blues musician Eddie Kirkland along with the guitarist Danny Morris and the bluegrass of the Misty Valley Boys.

Festivities at the Shenk Farm will include food and beverages, local artisans and crafters and other activities along with live music on various stages. Hot-air balloon flights will be available during the morning and evening launches as well as tethered ascensions during the three-day event. All concerts are included in the price of admission.

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The Grand Balloon Glow takes place at 9 p.m. on Saturday at the Luray Caverns grounds. Many balloons remain tethered to the ground and as the pilots inflate their crafts and ignite the burners, a warm glow illuminates the surrounding dark evening skies. This spectacle will be coordinated with a recital by David Breneman from the Luray Singing Tower, a 47-bell carillon on the event's perimeter. Admission for the Grand Balloon Glow is free.

On Saturday only, in celebration of the Aug. 13, 1878 discovery of Luray Caverns, Grand Illumination tours of this U.S. Natural Landmark will be available. The first Grand Illumination took place in 1878, with The New York Herald reporting that a "thousand candles illuminated the antechambers making it nearly as bright as day." Experience the thrill of adventure from this bygone era as period-costumed guides tell of Luray Caverns' storied past in special candle-lighted sections throughout the caverns. Tours depart frequently from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Shenk Farm, daily gate admission to festival grounds and concerts: Adults, $10; ages 6 through 12, $7; and age 5 and younger are admitted free.

Festival admission and Luray Caverns including Car & Carriage Caravan Museum is $21 for adults, and $10 for children.

All hot-air balloon activities are subject to weather and temperature variables. For information, go to www.LurayCaverns.com; or call 1-540-743-6551.

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