For anyone who longs to be captivated by the colorful display of a glowing hot air balloon, two opportunities present themselves soon: this Saturday in Jefferson, Texas, and then again June 11 and 12 in Shreveport, Louisiana.
On Saturday starting at 5:30 pm., the city of Jefferson's tourism bureau and Marion County Chamber of Commerce present a Hot Air Balloon Mini Glow at the Cypress River Airport.
The glow starts at sunset, but the event also includes food trucks (including Italian ice), music, bounce houses and more at this family-friendly, BYOB event. Organizers recommend bringing lawn chairs.
Event coordinator and chamber president Paul Moore said the tethered balloon ride goes up 20 feet. Sunset may not arrive until 8:30 p.m., but he describes it as a family outing with the children's activities leading up to the balloon glow. They're hopeful they can avoid the rain.
"We are lining up music," Moore said, noting five balloons, hailing from the Shreveport area, will participate. He said the same hot air balloon group holds other events like this in the region.
"This is the first time that we've done this. We're hoping to make it an annual event," Moore said.
Then on Friday, June 11, and Saturday, June 12, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night at the Louisiana State University campus in Shreveport, the sixth annual CenterPoint Energy Red River Balloon Rally has live entertainment and a play area for children, in addition to the many participating hot air balloons.
Allyson Walker, marketing manager for the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, said the Shreveport event is pretty much two events rolled into one.
"It's the U.S. team nationals, which is a competition with the 30 best balloon pilots in the country. They are in teams of three, so there are 10 teams. They compete for these different competitions every day," Walker said.
The winner represents the U.S. in an international championship, she said. Balloons will be seen in the area all week, flying over Shreveport-Bossier City. Then on Friday and Saturday, the rally event is essentially a full-on festival.
"So there's something for everyone. We have a kid's zone. We have a professional kite flying exhibition. We're going to have all kinds of live music, so Danny Gokey is the headliner for Friday night and then the Molly Ringwalds are the headliner for Saturday. They're not the only live entertainment," Walker said. "There's a balloon glow, there's a fireworks show. There's tethered balloon rides that cost extra but it's a neat addition."
For the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission this year marks the sixth annual event they've hosted, but the balloon festival itself has been held dating back to the 1990s, Walker explained, with a different organizer. After a hiatus, the commission brought it back.
"It's so unique to the area that we wanted to continue it," Walker said.
(Jefferson event: $10 per vehicle entry fee at the gate, $20 per person for a tethered balloon ride. Cypress River Airport is located at 270 Cypress River Road. More info is available at the Hot Air Balloon Mini Glow event page on Facebook. Shreveport event: $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 6 to 17. Tickets and a full schedule are available at RedRiverBalloonRally.com.)