What a Memorial Day weekend we had! Unlike some areas in the northeast and the upper midwest, we had three days of fantastic weather. Sunny, in the low 80’s with low humidity; does not get better than this.
There were many events throughout the weekend, so we had a hard time deciding which event to focus on. We decided on the Aloft Balloon festival in Simpsonville, the Scottish festival and a concert to round-up the options. In this post I will be sharing some pictures taken during the balloon festival.
The Simpsonville Balloon Festival is in its 29th year; this being our first attending. We have never been to a balloon festival and had high expectation on what we would see and the photo opportunities it would bring. We have heard of the Albuquerque balloon festival and always wanted to go and see it. Well, the Simpsonville one did not disappoint one bit. We saw 68 balloons go up in the air; what a sight. Well, see below for more…
Wind speed is a critical element balloonist must be aware of before deciding to launch. While the skies were clear, there was a 8 to 10 mph wind that placed the event in danger. After a very long wait for the winds to die down a bit, the green flag was given to start filling the balloons with hot air. It was amazing how balloons started to pop up across the vast field in front of us.
After filling the balloon with ambient temperature air using a couple of very large fans; the crew starts to the air inside the balloon with one or two very powerful propane burners. This is not an easy feat, and much care has to be given to assure the powerful flames do not touch the balloon fabric.
From the opposite end of this balloon, there are two or three individuals holding the balloon down by tugging on a rope attached to the top of the balloon. They seem to let go once there is the right amount of hot air inside of it. I think it is mainly to avoid the potential of a fire if a strong wind pushes on the partially inflated balloon sides while the burners are on.
My wife and I have seen hot air balloons before, but just a couple here and there. Never have we seen 68 balloons go up in the span of 45 minutes. An amazing colorful and majestic sight.
While hot air ballooning history shows it as a safe activity, I could not stop thinking of the recent accidents where people were killed in them. Happy to report there were no visible mishaps today. The captain on this balloon seems to be checking clearance from other close by balloons. Having 68 launching at close intervals must make navigation trickier.
Captain must remain focus on navigation, while passenger are free to wave goodbye to the crowd. The balloons were actually in a competition; the goal as I understood it was how accurate they were on landing their balloons on a predetermined spot miles away.
It is a family and friends effort getting the balloon ready for take off.
Wonder how much these things are; I bet is not a cheap sport.
When this balloon went up the crown applauded loudly. A very fitting homage on Memorial day weekend. Thanks to all those who gave their lives to assure our freedoms continue. We must also do our part to assure this.
Hard to tell which balloon had the nicest colors; I think this one was in the top five for sure.
…and away they go. What a great spectacle. We will make this festival a yearly tradition for us.
As the last balloon lifted off we decided to join the concert behind us. You can see some of the balloons well to their destinations to the left of this photo. The concert was held in the Charter Amphitheater at Heritage Park where they hold many concerts throughout the spring, summer and fall. You can see Bethe and Michelle in the aisles looking for a pace to sit. Michelle is our friend from Shanghai we met a month or so ago while shopping in a local store; small world.
The group we saw was Andy Grammer. We never heard about this group before, but they were very good. They engaged the crowd in a very effective way. Andy Grammer will be appearing (or one of his songs will be featured) in the next Bachelorette program – never seen it, but I guess it is a big deal.
Andy thanking the crowd for their support and engagement.
These two gals did not seem impressed by Andy Grammar’s music.
As we were leaving the festival, Michelle wanted to ride the ferris wheel. I was wondering why if China has much bigger ones. She told us that the ones in China move very slowly (true); this one spun a lot faster so she had to try it.
Here is Michelle and my wife having fun on the ferris wheel. We are planning a day at Six Flags with Michelle; we think she will have a blast with real rides.
Thanks for visiting; have a great week!