Carolina BalloonFest started 47 years ago near Love Valley, North Carolina. As it grew in popularity, it moved to its current location at Statesville Regional Airport. It was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1988. The event is held yearly on the 3rd weekend in October. We drove to Statesville on Saturday 10/17/2022. This was my first time attending.
Advanced adult tickets for Saturday were $20. Children are free. Free parking is offered offsite at the Iredell County State Fairgrounds which is where we parked and lined up to be shuttled to and from. As Saturday’s attendance reached capacity, the wait for the shuttle on the way back exceeded an hour. Paid VIP parking may have been a better alternative.
Besides the ability to fly ($325) or ride a tethered ($10) hot air balloon, the 2022 event included other attractions such as stage music, skydiving exhibitions, obstacle course, kids play areas, axe throwing, arts and craft vendors, fair-like food vendors, walk-in balloon, wine & craft beer garden etc.
A hot air balloon is composed of three parts: the gondola, the envelope and the burners. The basket or gondola holds the passengers. It is made from wicker. The envelope is the colorful part. It has an opening at the bottom to allow hot air in. The burners are cylinders placed below the opening in the basket. They burn propane gas to heat up the air inside the balloon. Since hot air rises, the balloon lifts up as the air within it is heated. The pilot can control the balloon’s vertical movement up or down but not sideways. Sideways movement depends on the wind direction.
I enjoyed watching hot air balloons slowly inflate and lift off. The web site states that over 40 balloons lift off every day of the 2.5-day weekend. My favorite attraction was the “balloon glow”. It starts as the sun goes down when all blown up balloons light up as guests count down along with the DJ. The result is a delightful display of colorful lit-up balloons in contrast with the darkness enveloping them.
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