One of the biggest winter events along the St. Croix River will paint the skies with color.

The Hot Air Affair, held the weekend of Feb. 6-8 in Hudson, Wis., will include staples such as balloon launches, a torchlight parade and a craft fair — along with a 2015 theme dedicated to agriculture.

Hot Air Affair attracts balloonists from as far away as New Mexico, Alabama, California and Pennsylvania. Nearly 40 hot air balloons are expected this year.

To celebrate agriculture, the festival will include locally grown food, computer lessons about farming for children, "soapbox derby vegetable car" races, a Dairy Olympics and a pet costume contest.

Ahead of the Hot Air Affair, associated painting classes taught by Audrey Martin will be held Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Urban Olive and Vine, and Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at Pitchfork Brewing. Both places are in Hudson. There is a $45 fee for class and supplies with additional cost for food and beverages. Participants must register at

For lodging or event details, contact the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau at 715-386-8411 or 800-656-6775 or go to or Hudson Hot Air Affair is also on Facebook.

Kevin Giles