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