Have you ever been to a hot air balloon festival? There is just something magical about hot air balloons. Maybe it’s their simplicity. Or their size and spectacular colors. Whatever it is, watching hot air balloons take off does not get old.
This year was the 5th annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival near Hot Springs, South Dakota. And while Covid did change how a few things have been done in the past, it didn’t stop 15 balloons from flying one perfect Saturday morning.
The two-day festival, usually held the last weekend of August, includes a Saturday and Sunday morning “mass ascension” at dawn of the balloons (weather permitting). During the day, you can find several events in Hot Springs like a pancake breakfast, 5K run, and sidewalk sales at various merchants. We chose to go kayaking at a nearby lake. At dusk, you return to the airport grounds for a balloon “night glow” where they are set up and inflated as if they are going to take off, but instead of being allowed to ascend, they are held down by the ground crew. The balloons glow like huge colorful lanterns. Unfortunately, high winds this year didn’t allow the balloons to be inflate and only the burners could be ignited. But still impressive.
The event was started by female pilot and navy veteran Petra Wilson. She currently serves as the Festival’s balloonmeister, directing all flight activities. She is also the owner and primary pilot for Western Horizons Hot Air Balloons.
If you ever get the chance to ride in a hot air balloon, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to see the world. For more information about the Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival, check out their website www.fallriverballoonfest.com.
Lesa McDermott | Girl Camper Guide to the Black Hills
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