Imagine yourself sitting on a blanket in a grassy field, listening to the low murmur of voices and the steamy sound of hot air balloons slowly filling and rising upward. The dusky sky darkens and then lights up again with the glow of these floating beings hovering over the crowd. This is a balloon glow and the start of most balloon festivals and championships. They are scheduled all year long in various parts of the US and most are free for everyone to attend and admire. Families, couples, and groups of friends can enjoy the activities and events offered at these various gatherings. Here are a few that are scheduled for August and September 2009. Please feel free to add your event in the comments and leave a brief description of what makes it special.
Baton Rouge, LA: August 7 – 9 Pennington Balloon Championship
In 2005, Sports Illustrated called this event one of “America’s Top 25 Summer Essentials”. As a lifelong resident of this area, I have to admit that I’ve never attended this event before. Usually I would be scheduled to work, and the closest I would get to the balloon championship would be an early morning glimpse of this ballet of balloons floating over Baton Rouge. This year, my entire family is planning an evening picnic to listen to live music, watch the balloon glow, and admire the fireworks. The most exciting part for me? I was invited to go on my first balloon ride!
Cody, WY: Aug 7, 8, 9 Wild West Balloon Fest
Mentock Park is the site for a balloon glow and morning ascension in Buffalo Bill’s Cody and Yellowstone Country. Spend the weekend admiring the balloons and experience the wildness in the air. Be sure to check out the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Albany, OR: Wah Chang Northwest Art and Air Festival Aug 28-30 Kids 8-17 can enjoy free balloon rides through this event’s “Young Eagles” program. Lots of activities and live music,including a performance by Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
Danville, NY: New York State Festival of Balloons Sept 3-7
Located at the Danville Airport, this Labor Day Weekend event offers something for everyone. Camping is even permitted near the area and an onsite car show will appeal to the hot rod lovers. Kids will enjoy the festivities and art hounds can browse the arts and crafts area.
Shreveport, LA: Red River Balloon Fest and Parade September 11-13, 2009 This family friendly even in north Louisiana donates all profits to local charities in the nearby area. A car show, air show, and children’s activities are on the schedule and tethered balloon rides are offered.
Pagosa Springs, CO: Colorfest Balloon Rally September 12-13, 2009
Admire the balloons with the gorgeous San Juan Mountains as the backdrop. Spend a long weekend and enjoy a therapeutic soak at Pagosa Spa, which is fed from the hot springs.
Plano, TX: Plano Balloon Fest Sept 18-20
The Texas sky becomes decorated with these colorful balloons rising in the air. For 30 years this family friendly event has been a gathering for visitors and locals. You can schedule a ride on a first come, first served basis for $250.
St. Louis, MO: Great Forest Balloon Race Sept 18, 19
This balloon race celebrates its 37th year and boasts more than 130,000 attendees annually. It takes place on Central Field near the Jewel Box in Forest Park. There is even a photo contest open to the public.
Clovis, CA: ClovisFest Sept 19-20, 2009
Each morning starts off with a sky full of hot air balloons flying over the vendors and families. In addition this event includes a car show, multi-cultural food, great live entertainment, pony rides, beer garden and more. This event draws more than 70,000 attendees, and over 250 vendors.
Louisville, KY: Bluegrass Balloon Fest Sept 25-27
More than 70 balloons will dot the Kentucky skies, enchanting adults and children alike. Walk in admission is $2 and is donated to local charities. Tethered balloon rides are offered and activits are both on the ground and in the air.