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Balloon Convention Soars to New Heights

MORE THAN 1,150 professional balloon artists from around the world attended the 15th annual International Balloon Arts Convention in March in Rosemont, Ill. The best-attended convention in the history of IBAC attracted delegates from more than 39 countries and 46 U.S. states, who came for five days of classes, competitions, gala events and networking opportunities.

More than 200 attendees worked on constructing the world's largest balloon sculpture-a mural of downtown Chicago on New Year's Eve. Qualatex supplied the 70,884 balloons that went into creation of the massive sculpture, which was featured on ABC-TV's "Good Morning, America."

The Designer of the Year award went to Kelli Sipp, owner of Kelli's It's My Party in LaVerne, Calif. This was the first time that the top award went to an individual who won first place in three competitions-large sculpture, table centerpiece and buffet arrangement.

Other honorees included Hideaki Kanemoto of Goody Balloon Co. in Hiroshima, Japan, New Artist of the Year as best newcomer in large sculpture; and to Stephen McDonough II of Entertainers in Stoneham, Mass., Entertainer of the Year for most accumulated points in figure, busker and non-round sculpture.

The next IBAC will be March 1-5, 2000, at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. For more information, call 800/458-4222, 614/840-0868; fax: 614/840-0202.

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