MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — A hot air balloon festival in Ohio is preparing for its 17th year, despite challenges including the loss of a major sponsor and last year’s big attendance drop due to heavy rains.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports 26 hot air balloons will be participating in this year’s Ohio Challenge festival Friday and Saturday at Smith Park in Middletown.

Event organizers have had to deal with a 90% drop in attendance in 2018 and Selection.com’s withdrawal as presenting sponsor this year after a contractual dispute with the city of Middletown and its manager at the Middletown Regional Airport.

Festival organizers said the 2017 event generated an estimated direct economic impact of $2 million to $2.5 million. They say the event attracts an average of 50,000 to 55,000 people.

Information from Hamilton-Middletown Journal News , http://www.journal-news.com