This weekend balloon festival was a unique experience bringing together aviation, photography, beautiful sunsets, and ballooning. The weather in mid July could not have been better. It was clear bright sunshine and warm. When the balloons took flight at 7 PM there was a setting sun and a gentle breeze from the west. I came to learn that evening from the public address announcer that there was $100,000 competition for accuracy and blooming. Apparently the first plane to take off is the lead balloon in Marks and ask where it lands. The Chase balloons then try to drop a bag as close as they can to that X. I think this is serious prize money and would love to see some video footage. The worry numerable balloons and some were quite memorable. There was the cat and Darth Vader. There was a huge American flag and my personal favorite is strawberry. That’s because the owner and pilot of the strawberry is a friend and commercial pilot. Rich Wiedenhaefer invited me to join his chase team which I hoped would let me see the preflight. It was choreographed beautifully. Balloon Festival Each balloon would carry passengers who booked tickets through the promoter. There were two tethered balloons at the site that would take passengers 100 feet in the air for five minutes. All the balloons took flight over a half an hour beginning at 7 PM. Most stayed fairly low to the ground and were only partially visible as they moved 3 to 4 miles from the field. There were a good number of balloons that had a higher flight profile. I’m sure everyone was smiling as brightly as I was. It was like seeing a triple rainbow or a performance by the Blue Angels. It was a perfect evening midsummer warm and as I was told we were lucky that The fields were not muddy as they had been in some previous years. Balloons came from all over the East Coast and I was amazed at the variation and balloons. I would highly recommend going next year to this balloon festival in mid July.