This past weekend was the 2nd annual Kiwanis Hot Air Balloon Festival out at Karst Park in Bloomington. The festival starts Friday night with a balloon launch and glow and goes through Sunday. You can take a hot air balloon ride (for a fee), listen to live music, watch balloons be blown up, buy and eat lots of food, and visit the vendor booths. This year's cost of attendance was $15 per carload.
Eric recruited several of his friends to come with us on Friday night (5 people per car means the price per person was only $3 -- much more reasonable). We enjoyed going to this festival last year and wanted to check out the balloons again.
We arrived about 5:50, just in time for the 6pm start of the balloons filling up that were going to be launched. Several balloons went up in the air and we had a great time watching them be filled. Mostly...there is a lot of fire and it looks really cool. Last year we learned all about how the balloons actually work, so this year we enjoyed seeing it in action again. I also liked repeatedly asking our friends, "Isn't this cool?"...to which they graciously always replied yes.
Last year we did not eat any food, but this year since we were here more socially we had planned on having dinner. There are many food vendors to choose from, which actually made it really hard to pick (almost everything looked good). I wound up getting a breaded Hoosier tenderloin (I have a weakness and it is called Indiana-restaurant-made breaded tenderloin...even the worst tenderloin here will be better than any other tenderloin in the country). Eric had a fancy grilled cheese and soup from The Big Cheese food truck. Christine got a pulled pork baked potato (which was my 2nd choice). Later on the girls got a pumpkin spice funnel cake with cream cheese icing to share with the boys. It was all pretty good! It was also very much fair food, so, you know, pace yourself.
We saw several balloons this year that were not here last year. I am excited to see how big this festival will get while we are in Bloomington. The coolest new balloon was Smokey the Bear! He even had his own chase team.
The creepiest new balloon was the Purple People Eater. It was so creepy that I did not want to take a photo of the front, so here you can see the back.
We had prime viewing of Smokey getting blown up.
Next to Smokey was PePe Le Pew.
He got a little friendly with Smokey.
As the night goes on and the skies get darker, the Balloon Glow starts up. The balloon handlers (pilots? fire-makers?) turn on the fire and literally make the balloons glow. It is pretty much the best thing.
Unfortunately for us, Friday night there was a lot of wind and the balloon handlers were not willing to keep the balloons inflated during all that wind. So the balloon glow only had two participants. This was really unfortunate as last year this was the highlight of the festival for us (all those balloons glowing is so cool!). I think the glow was better on Saturday, but who can plan when the wind will blow? At least we got to see a couple!
This Oliver Winery balloon is one of my favorites. It's so pretty, both in the daylight and night glow.
Make sure to mark your calendars for this event next September, and get your friends to go with you.