Ok, I can literally cross "attend a Balloon Fest" off my bucket list.
I have a teensy (ok, big) fear of heights when I'm not enclosed fully (I'm not great on extension ladders, rock climbing, ledges)...so standing in the bucket while it was being held down was as far as I wanted to go in a balloon.
My time at the Balloon Fest in Statesville beyond that moment, was happily spent on terra firma, seeing the balloons, crews, baskets, fire blasting out of propane tanks, chase cars speeding off...taking photos up close and personal. Most of the crowd camped out on lawn chairs and blankets and there were just a handful of us taking pix. I was surprised that were were allowed to get so close to the action.
The colors were striking against a spectacular "Carolina Blue" sky and the weather was declared by the event organizers as "perfect" for flying. I popped over to Statesville as I was heading back south from a weeeknd camping/kayaking trip. I got there an hour before the afternoon flight, then stayed for the "Glow" where grounded balloons lit up against the night sky for the crowd.
The band was great and people were shag dancing and just letting it rip. Some old dude from ZZ Topp was there, with his signature long white beard.
The food was just awful for a low-carber! Funnel cakes, potato chips with gobs of cheddar cheese, fried, fried, and more fried. I made the best of it with a chicken pita, and had a light beer.
It took 45 minutes for 1000's of cars to merge into ONE LANE to exit the airfield. Yowza. Nice part? Unlike in New York, no one honked a horn...we just dealt with it. Not a bad price to pay for a beautiful afternoon.
I hope you enjoy these photos!
Some little part of me wants to go on a balloon ride for real...but we'll see. There's usually champagne involved and that would help.