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Tag Archives: Balloon Festival

This past weekend we drove over to Hudson, Wisconsin to attend the Hudson Hot Air Affair 2020 balloon rally. Launch time was scheduled for 7:35 am. We were up very early so we could make it to the morning launch. When we arrived in Hudson it was still dark out so we stopped at McDonald’s to get a bite to eat and wait for the sun to rise. When we arrived at the launch site some of the balloons were already starting to setup. The balloon is packed in a large bag so they have to empty the balloon on to the ground, untie it and then spread it out. They then attach the balloon to the basket. The next step is to start to inflate the balloon with a large powerful fan. Once it is inflated far enough they then start the burners to heat up the air causing the balloon to rise.

More photos from the Hudson Hot Air Affair can be found on my website.

 

Once the basket is setup they test the burners to make sure they work.

As the balloon inflates several people control the top of the balloon with a long rope. this prevents the balloon from wandering back and forth during the inflation process. As you can see in the first photo the crew member in the blue jacket is giving hand signals to the crew members  holding on to the rope. In the last photo there was only one person holding the rope and a gust of wind pulled him to the ground. Fortunately he held onto the rope while server other bystanders jumped in to help him control things.

Did I mention it was cold out? It was -15 and most people were bundled up. The person in the first shot looks like she was freezing to death. Oh, that’s my wife and she was freezing to death.

Fortunately it wasn’t long before some of the balloons were inflated and ready to be launched. The basket is tied to a vehicle so it doesn’t take off until they are ready. Once it is untied from the vehicle volunteers hang on to the basket until they are ready to launch.

After the launch we drove back to McDonald’s to get some coffee and warm up before heading to our next event.

 

 

Last weekend we attended the first ever Le Festival des Montgolfieres at Bayfront Prk in Duluth, Minnesota. As near as I can tell it is the only balloon festival in Minnesota.

We headed down to the Park early in the evening on Friday. As it turned dark the plan was to inflate the balloons for a balloon glow as the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra played in the background. As it turned out there was too much wind so they arranged the baskets in front of the stage and turned on the burners at strategic points in the music.

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As the evening wore on visitors were treated to an even better attraction as the full moon rose over the Aerial Lift Bridge.

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Saturday morning we headed back down to Bayfront Park to watch the balloon ascensions and to get free static ride in one of the balloons. Unfortunately the wind was too strong and the only thing they could do was to inflate some of the balloons. There were a lot of photographers around to document the event.

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On Saturday afternoon a local organization was offering free kites to the kids  so Bayfront Park was filled with kids, young and old, flying kites. It was a beautiful warm fall day.

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On Saturday evening the balloons were to make yet another attempt to ascend. There was a good crowd on hand to listen to music and watch the balloon ascensions but, once again there was too much wind.

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On Sunday morning there was one last attempt to get the balloons aloft but once again it was a beautiful day but too much wind. It’s hard to say if there will be a second balloon festival. It is a beautiful but tough venue for ballooning. The winds have to be relatively calm and have to be out of a specific direction because the balloons can’t go out over the lake or up the hills. Never-the-less it was a fun event to attend. It didn’t hurt that there were over a dozen craft breweries on site offering a taste of their brews.

More photos from the event can be found on my website.

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