This event began in 1974, when town committees staged an art fair at the Logan County courthouse. Latham Park* later became the venue, and balloons entered the scene in 1989. They drew such crowds that the airport location was approved in 2005.
Dulany has more photos on his gallery site, D's Digitals, and the town of Lincoln also offers a photo album of this new prairie tradition.
Photos courtesy of Dulany Sriner.
* Dick Hart reminds me that Latham Park has a connection with Iles House: "Latham Souther, the man who saved the house in 1910, is a descendant of the Latham family that settled on Elkhart Hill and were active in early events in Logan County. The Iles House has a full history of the family prepared by David Stevens, a docent and a descendant of Latham Souther. We also have furniture donated by the Souther family that once belonged to the Latham family. It was indeed a small world in early central Illinois."