SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — To celebrate Smokey Bear's 75th birthday this month, the U.S Forest Service and Virginia Department of Forestry partnered up to bring the Smokey Bear hot air balloon to the Shenandoah County Fair.
Until Tuesday, you can check out the balloon and even go for a short ride in the morning from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and at night between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Mary Yonce, with the U.S Forest Service, said it took more than a year to plan for the balloon to make its first appearance in the Valley and thanks to scheduling with, Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon, Inc., they were able to bring it for fair week.
"We are hosting the Smokey Bear balloon here at the Shenandoah fairgrounds to commemorate Smokey's 75th birthday," Yonce said. "We've had 75 successful years of fire prevention messaging and were happy to have smokey here to help further that message into the future."
Although the balloon will only be at the fair until Tuesday before it floats off to its next stop, John Hisghman, with the Virginia Department of Forestry, said there will be other activities for fair goers to participate in throughout the week.
"Smokey himself will be here all week and his cabin will be here all week too," Hisghman said. "We'll also have representatives from both agencies manning it, and be able to ask questions and to explain and talk to people."
Smokey Bear was born on Aug. 9, 1944, after an agreement between the U.S Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a bear would be the symbol for their effort to promote forest fire prevention.