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Up, Up and Away at the Carolina BalloonFest

Are you looking to enjoy some of the East Coast's best hot air ballooning? Does the sight of a sky filled with multi-colored balloons make you happy? Then the Carolina BalloonFest in Statesville, North Carolina is an event you will want to attend. This very popular outing is held each year in October. A word to the wise though, get there really early. So many people wanted to attend this year on Saturday that they had to turn people away. If you are lucky enough to be able to spend the entire weekend at the show it is worth the cost to buy the VIP package just for the reserved parking.

Carolina BalloonFest

The other good thing about getting to the BalloonFest early is that you are more likely to see an actual launch in the morning. The pilots of these beautiful balloons are at the mercy of the winds. If the officials determine that it is too windy then for everyone's safety the balloons are grounded. At the Carolina Balloonfest, look to the center of the launch field for the flagpole flying a pennant. Each color represents different conditions. You want to see a green flag flying.

Weather Officials at the Carolina BalloonFest

After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity Friday evening, there was a short window when some of the balloons were able to launch. This was our first time at a large balloon launch so we were very happy!

Balloons filling at Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Soon the sun dipped too low in the sky and the remaining balloons were grounded. Balloons that were not able to lift-off did remain inflated for a sort of mini night glow.

Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

ReMax Balloon at Night

We were up early Saturday to catch the morning events. Originally it was supposed to be just a fly-over but the winds made it more favorable for a launch from the field known as a "Mass Ascension". Lucky us for getting our butts out of bed!  Soon the field was full of balloon teams testing their burners like so many belching dragons.

Testing burners at Carolina BalloonFest

Testing burners at Carolina BalloonFest

Testing burners at Carolina BalloonFest

The pace was hectic. Everywhere you looked there were brightly colored balloons inflating. Then, one by one in quick succession hot air balloons filled the sky.

Inflating Balloons at Carolina BalloonFest

Sean Askren launches the Jasper Balloon at Carolina BalloonFest

Greg Miller pilots the Eclipse Balloon

Colorful Hot Air Balloons at Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest

Hot Air Balloon floating at Carolina BalloonFest

Mark Fritze lifts off the Freedom Flyer Balloon

Ty Parson and the Up Balloon at Carolina BalloonFest

Floating Hot Air Balloons at Carolina BalloonFest

Carolina BalloonFest in Statesville, NC

The hot air balloons came in many shapes and colors but none could match the uniqueness of the specialty balloons. Jim Bushelle was flying Rocket Man. The Owl and the Pussycat was piloted by Jan Miller. Jack Semler had the Smiley Scarecrow. And, Doug Gantt proved that pigs fly with Ham-let.

Jim Bushelle flying Rocket Man

Owl and the Pussycat piloted by Jan Miller

Jack Semler and the Smiley Scarecrow

Doug Gantt flying Ham-let (When Pigs Fly)

Wow! It took quite some time before we calmed down from all the excitement. More than fifty balloons launched during the Saturday morning Mass Ascension. We spent the rest of the day listening to great music as we waited for the evening launch.  Main stage entertainment was provided by such great artists as Bing Futch and the Gal Friday Band.

Bing Futch at Carolina BalloonFest

Gal Friday Band at Carolina BalloonFest

Gal Friday Band at Carolina BalloonFest
We actually discovered the Carolina BalloonFest by following the schedule of the popular band known as Albannach. From their website: "Albannach are not just another Scottish 'Pipes & Drums' band, indeed we bring a new and exciting form of music to your living room. A championship winning piper, an extremely talented main drummer, bass drummers and bodhran musician bring you a brand new approach to percussion and Celtic music. Our style of music is exciting, energetic and enchanting and we promise to leave you begging for more."
Albannach at the Carolina BalloonFest

Albannach at the Carolina BalloonFest


Jamesie of Albannach

Donnie of Albannach

Aya of Albannach

Jacquie of Albannach

Colin of Albannach

Bubbles seemed to be very popular at this event. From hundreds of little tiny ones to ginormous big ones.

Bubble Vendor at Carolina BalloonFest

Giant Bubbles at Carolina BallonFest

There were plenty of food vendors to choose from as well as wine and beer tasting. Some complained about the high prices but we thought the prices weren't that bad and definitely inline with other events of this size. As a bonus, the King Arthur Flour truck was here passing out free cookies!

Peg finds the best doughnuts in the entire state of North Carolina

Food vendors at the Carolina BalloonFest

King Arthur Flour at Carolina BalloonFest

King Arthur Flour at Carolina BalloonFest

Beer and Wine Tasting at Carolina BalloonFest

We didn't take a full ride in a hot air balloon but we did hop aboard for a tethered ride.  There were two balloons to choose from when the wind cooperated.

ReMax tethered hot air balloon rides

Tethered Balloon Rides at Carolina BalloonFest

View of the inside of a Hot Air Balloon

Early morning view from a Balloon at Carolina BalloonFest

Peg and Bubba Harmon at Carolina BalloonFest

Many people would be disappointed on Saturday as the evening launch did not happen. It is beyond the control of the event organizers to control the weather. It is sad that some people would think otherwise and wish the pilots risk their safety and the safety of their passengers just for the sake of their own entertainment.

Waiting for the wind to die at Carolina BalloonFest

Waiting for the wind to die at Carolina BalloonFest

After the sun set the winds calmed and the night glow was on! You must experience this magical event at least once in your lifetime.

Filling the balloons at night for Carolina BalloonFest

Balloon Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

Balloon Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

Balloon Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

Balloon Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

Balloon Night Glow at Carolina BalloonFest

What a fantastic event the Carolina BalloonFest is!  Plan ahead and arrive early to get the most enjoyment out of your trip. The National Balloon Rally Charities, Inc. is an incorporated 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is the organizer of the Carolina BalloonFest. This year it raised $82,205 for 25 organizations.

We have many more photos for you to see over on our photo website. Be sure to visit BG Customs Photography.


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