Countdown to festival fun:
READINGTON, NJ — The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning will soon fill the sky with the awe-inspiring spectacle of colorful hot air balloons.   Music will fill the air, too — the three-day event is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.   Pop superstar and 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Todd Rundgren; preeminent progressive rock band Kansas; and multi-platinum-selling rocker band Collective Soul; headline the festival’s hugely popular live concert series from July 29-31 at Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ.   Presented by the New Jersey Lottery, Rundgren (“Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw The Light,” “Can We Still Be Friends,” “Bang The Drum”)  will rock the Festival’s Main Stage on Saturday night, July 30.    His concert follows that evening’s mass hot air balloon ascension and take place in conjunction with a spectacular nighttime hot air balloon glow.   Kansas (“Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind,” “Point of Know Return”) has been a staple of classic rock radio for nearly five decades with a catalogue of 16 studio albums, five live albums, and eight gold albums. Featuring New Jersey native and keyboardist Tom Brislin, they’ll perform Sunday afternoon, July 31.   Multi-platinum-selling rock band Collective Soul broke into mainstream popularity thanks to extensive radio play of their rock anthem “Shine.” The breakout song helped establish them as major players on the alternative rock scene, VH1 would later rank “Shine” at #42 on their list of the “100 Greatest Songs of the ’90s.” Their catalog of hits includes “December,” “The World I Know,” “Where the River Flows,” “Precious Declaration,” “Listen,” and “Heavy.”   Best-selling children’s recording artist and pre-school television favorite Laurie Berkner —recognized as “the Adele of the pre-school set” by The New York Times — is back for an encore performance as she headlines this year’s children’s concert. With an average of more than 16 million monthly streams and 14 best-selling albums, the Princeton, NJ native’s songs have become beloved classics for children worldwide.    2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of her debut album.   The New Jersey Lottery’s “Lottery Land” was introduced last year and the multi-level lounge and entertainment complex became an instant winner with festival attendees; this year its CASH POP Summer Stage offers a second concert venue.   You can catch top-flight tribute bands Vegas McGraw (tribute to Tim McGraw) and Dance Candy (tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire) performing opening day, Friday, July 29. Mini Kiss (tribute to KISS), All Revved Up (tribute to Meat Loaf), and Simply Spice (tribute to the Spice Girls) perform Saturday, July 30. Vyntage Skynyrd (tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd), The B-Street Band (Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band), and Sugar Mountain (celebrating the genius of Neil Young) perform Sunday, July 31.   The 39th annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning features twice-a-day mass ascensions of up to 100 sport and special shaped hot air balloons, concerts, a nighttime hot air balloon glow, family entertainment and attractions, food, fireworks, and more.   For tickets, information and daily schedules, visit www.balloonfestival.com.   New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning Concert Series Friday, July 29 – Laurie Berkner, 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 29 – Collective Soul in association with 105.5 WDHA, 8 p.m.  Saturday, July 30 – Todd Rundgren presented by the New Jersey Lottery, 8 p.m. Sunday, July 31 – Kansas in association with Q104.3 FM, 3:30 p.m.