CROMWELL – Sweetly Kismet Candy Store has taken the term “sugar high” to new levels by hosting the first Kismet in Carlton Balloon Festival on Friday and Saturday.
The event was held in conjunction with the Cromwell Harvest Festival at the Cromwell-Wright High School baseball diamonds. Next year, organizers plan the hot air balloon festival to be held in partnership with the Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.
In previous years, Bayfront Festival Park has served as the setting for the Duluth Hot Air Balloon Festival. After a four-year hiatus, a group of Northland organizers decided to hold a similar rally further inland for safety reasons.
“Bayfront was a difficult site to take off and fly from due to unpredictable winds. We didn’t want to end up over Lake Superior with nowhere to land,” Sweetly Kismet Candy Store owner Jon Parrott told Carlton.
A hot air balloon pilot, Jon joined fellow Minnesota balloonists Ed Chapman, Brett Tupy and brothers Mark and Tom Spanier in an effort to share their joy of the activity with others in the area.
“There aren’t many people doing it, maybe less than a dozen in the state. We’re hoping to bring ballooning back and revive it. It gives local pilots a way to show the community what they do and display their balloons,” Jon said.
With captive rides and commercial flights followed by a light-up balloon show on Saturday at dusk, the first annual Kismet Balloon Festival in Carlton was a success, drawing a lively baseball field with attendees. The Sweetly Kismet Candy Store hosted the event, with concessions available for hungry balloonists.
JoAnn Schmidt said her family ventured over an hour to Cromwell from Pine City because it was a good opportunity for her daughter, Claira Schmidt, who has Down syndrome. They opted for a tethered ride in the Sweetly Kismet ball.
“It was hot,” said JoAnn describing the heat from the burner as they stood in the basket, “and cool! I think it’s a very cool event that the town of Cromwell has put on – very unique. Luckily, the time I cooperated in. Grab the chance if you ever had the chance.
After graduating from the University of North Dakota, Jon gained experience as a flight instructor and flew business jets. He left the industry in 2008 and in 2017 decided to open a family business with his wife, Ashley Parrott. She worked as a nurse and Jon owned a business.
They dreamed of creating a candy store tourist destination and bought a hot air balloon as a marketing tool. Chapman provided Jon’s training to get an extra grade on his pilot’s license.
“The best thing I’ve learned about ballooning is community. It’s a community where you meet people who have the same love and passion for flying. In the sport of ballooning, it’s there’s a lot of work to do — setting things up, taking things apart and putting things together, but if someone asks or needs something, everyone pitches in,” Jon said.
Prior to the opening of the Sweetly Kismet candy store on June 26, 2020, the Parrotts were firing on all cylinders to clear the land, build a road and prepare the site for the candy warehouse. Nestled in the pines behind Kwik Trip on Highway 210 in Twin Lakes Township, it’s located minutes from Jay Cooke State Park.
“The first summer we opened was an uncertain time with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we were very well received by the community. In our second season, we had supply chain issues It was a challenge to get products, but it’s getting better. This summer, it’s finally been a bit of a normal year,” Jon said. “We’re growing and getting bigger, but we have to adapt to everything. that the world has in store for us at all times.”
At 4,500 square feet, the niche gift shop’s shelves are overflowing with 3,500 candies, sodas and other snacks. A true family business, the couple’s three children and two sheltie puppies, Pez and Pixie, warmly welcome customers.
Tractor rides, food trucks, and outdoor activities like children’s games, roasting marshmallows, and hot dogs over an open fire take place throughout the fall in Kismet. And, of course, there are occasional hot air balloon rides attached to the store, depending on weather conditions. Event details can be found on the Sweetly Kismet Candy Store Facebook page at @ultimatetcandyexperience.