POPPING ART: Sculpture Makes People Pause

It’s easy to find plenty of fun things to do at the fair. This year, you’ll find something new in one of the buildings on the fairgrounds that’s making people stop, take pictures and wonder how it’s done.

You’ll find photos, pottery and paintings inside the Cultural Center, along with a pop of art that will make you pause.

Poppin’ Penelope is the woman behind a display of thousands of balloons. She says, “This is not the first time I’ve done this.”

She’s creating a two story display in the lobby of the Cultural Center. Penelope says, “I’m going to be adding on every single day of the fair.”

So far she’s crafted a giant tree, a couple princesses and a moving Ferris wheel. She says, “I wanted to try something new, so I asked all my friends what they thought of fairs and what made them happy, and although I am absolutely terrified of heights, the Ferris wheel came out on top.”

Poppin’ Penelope started the balloon sculpture two days ago. She’s gone through 7,000 balloons. She says, “I’m averaging about 3,000 a day, so I’m guessing around 40,000 balloons by the end of it.”

The Omaha artist also averages many questions. She answers one laughing, “I’m 19 years old, and I’m married, so sorry.”

Another one is if kids can have a balloon. She says, “I’m not able to give everyone balloons.” Many people also wonder why she does it. She says, “My big brother is the amazing Arthur, and he does magic shows and things, so that’s really fun. Then our great grandfather was a magician as well, so balloons are kind of new to the family.”

One fair goer says, “I thought it was neat. It’s something I haven’t seen this many balloons without popping.”

Poppin’ Penelope says she is going to make a ball gown tomorrow. And, visitors can enjoy the show in a newly air conditioned Cultural Center. It’s in the second phase of remodeling. The updates will be completed by the start of the next fair.