Chester County Balloon Festival to launch in New Garden
● By Richard Gaw
For at least one weekend over the past three years, the residents of Landenberg, Toughkenamon and Avondale have looked toward the sky. Beginning on June 22 and through the weekend, the sky will again be dotted with colorful hot-air balloons for them to admire, and maybe to ride in.
For the fourth year, the Chester County Balloon Festival will take place at the New Garden Flying Field from June 22 to 24. Events will include hot-air balloon rides, balloon glow displays, a fireworks show, paragliding and skydiving demonstrations, monster truck rides and helicopter rides, as well as dozens of vendors.
The Victory Brewing Company will host this year’s Beer Garden and serve its Summer Love Ale and other favorites in a community-like setting that will offer live music, food trucks and great views of the balloon flights and balloon glow.
After kicking off the festival at the Embreeville Fairgrounds and Plantation Field in Coatesville during its first eight years, host Air Ventures Hot Air Balloon Flights, Inc., seems to have found a permanent home at the flying field.
“It's been great having the festival at the New Garden Flying Field, because we can use the access to the airport for helicopter rides, skydiving and ballooning, and also be able to tie in the history of ballooning with the history of aviation,” said Deb Harding of Air Ventures Hot Air Balloon Flights, Inc. “It's also the ideal location for Sunday, June 24, when we will have a search and rescue helicopter display operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.”
As she witnesses the growing popularity of the festival every year – reflected in crowds that have topped 25,000 – Harding has a simple philosophy to explain what draws these large audiences.
“I think people love balloons, because it's truly something that people don't see that often in a given day, so it becomes a very special sighting when they see a hot-air balloon soaring above them,” she said. “Most balloon flights take off very early in the morning, and then again two hours before sunset, so we're not always visible to everyone. Plus, it's just plain fun to do, for no other reason that people get to delight in the wonder of the flight, and in the science and action of it.”
Harding said that while she enjoys seeing the smiling faces at the festival every year, there is another factor that draws her to balloon flight.
“The reason I do it is because of my love of Chester County,” she said. “It's a beautiful place to fly, of the freedom we enjoy in America of general aviation, and the spirit of the 225-year-old sport of ballooning, a division of aviation that is still, after all these years, unique.”
Throughout the festival, balloon rides will be available – weather permitting – to the public on June 22 at 5:30 p.m., and on June 23 and 24 at 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Helicopter flights will be available on June 23 and 24, starting on the hour from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets for both rides can be purchased in advance by visiting www.ccballoonfest.com.
A non-profit organization, the Chester County Balloon Festival will contribute a portion of the proceeds from the festival to the Chester County Hero Fund and other local youth community groups.
The 12th Annual Chester County Balloon Festival is located at The New Garden Flying Field (1235 Newark Rd., Toughkenamon). To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.ccballoonfest.com. Tickets will also be available at the festival.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.