READINGTON — The next chapter for the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning has yet to be written as the Jan. 31 deadline to find a title sponsor has been extended by a week.

Festival organizer Howard Freeman told New Jersey 101.5 that they have been talking to a New Jersey-based company to pick up sole title sponsorship after QuickChek gave it up after 27 years.

"They have a senior executive who is out of town until next week so they asked for an extension so I gave them until late next week. In the words of Yogi Berra, it ain't over til it's over. We're in there fighting, let's put it that way. Keep your fingers crossed," Freeman said. He would not name the company.

The annual event at Solberg Airport is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America which has an estimated economic impact of $52.4 million.

Freeman considers himself optimistic and is encouraged by the way talks are going but doesn't want to jinx anything.

"The event was on its way to the electric chair and the warden is on the phone with me," Freeman said.

Freeman said the sponsorship is a multi-million-dollar commitment and said there was a great deal of interest from companies who may not have realized the magnitude of what is involved in sponsorship.

"The good news is once we hopefully come to an agreement next week we can circle back with all these people who are interested in the festival and get them involved as a level that's comfortable for them," Freeman said.

Among those who expressed interest were a winery and some solar companies, Freeman said.

The festival has raised more than $3 million for local charities and nonprofits, according to Freeman.

The 2020 festival is tentatively scheduled for July 24-26 at Solberg Airport in Readington.

Photos from past years:

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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