This past weekend marked the 11th anniversary of the Chester County Hot Air Balloon Festival, which was held again at the New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon, PA. The Chester County Balloon Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting local businesses and tourism, and a portions of the festival proceeds go to the Chester County Hero Fund as well as several local youth organizations.
High winds kept all of the air ships grounded on opening day Friday, but there was still plenty for the light crowd to enjoy, including over 100 food and craft vendors, a hot air balloon “museum” tent, unique kite flying demonstrations, monster truck and zip line rides, several live bands throughout the day and evening, and a wine and beer garden accompanied by a mechanical bull ride. If you asked the kids, the highlight of the day was probably the candy drop from a 12 ft. radio controlled plane called the “Candyman”.
Saturday morning was still a bit too windy to fly, but the conditions quickly improved and more of the festivities were able to take place later in the day. Over 20 hot air balloons participated in a balloon glow in the evening before many took off with passengers. There were more live bands and radio controlled planes (including two jet aircrafts) that impressed the crowd. The evening wrapped up with dazzling fireworks lighting up the sky. Sunday proved to be a perfect Summer day, kicking off with an early morning balloon launch framed against a breath-taking sunrise.
This year’s special hot air balloon was the DreamShip – a balloon with illustrated panels designed by the children of America’s military heroes. DreamShip has been traveling the country to raise awareness in support of Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational scholarships to children of fallen or disabled service members, and will take part in the upcoming Wawa Welcome America Festival in Philadelphia.
The dedicated staff and volunteers of the Chester County Balloon Festival really outdid themselves – bravo! The weather didn’t always cooperate, but they were well prepared and provided plenty of other entertainment and activities for the estimated 15,000 attendees to enjoy. When the weather did allow it, the skies over Chester County were painted in spectacular floating colors!
[Photos and article by: Rick Pettine]
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