Balloon Fest – Michigan Challenge

Jun/29/2011 5 Malia Lane
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lucky for me, the Michigan Challenge Balloon Fest was being held the weekend I was staying at Brighton Recreation Area.  I had often seen pictures of this type event in Albuquerque when my brother lived there, but never was able to see one in person.

I just knew I’d enjoy it, but I didn’t know I’d be jumping up and down and clapping like a little kid by the time the balloons took to the air!

Maybe it was because for a while it didn’t look like the balloons were going to be able to take off.  After walking all around till my feet hurt, checking out all the booths, eating as much junk food as my stomach could stand, people-watching until it got so crowded everyone looked the same, it was 6:00 and time for the scheduled mass take off.  The announcer said it was too windy at that point and they would evaluate the conditions in an hour.  They had been forced to cancel the fly-in scheduled for early that morning due to the same problem.

Baloon layout preparation

By 7:45, the balloons were still just laid out in deflated rows and we could see the debate going on as to whether it was going to happen that night or not.  I was thinking, “What crappy luck today – I finally get to a balloon fest and they can’t take off!”

The announcer informed us that if they couldn’t take off soon, it wouldn’t happen at all that night because due to FDA regulations, the balloons cannot fly after dark.  Shortly thereafter, it was like I could feel a new sense of calm in the air, looked over to the group around the deflated balloons.  They were obviously taking a vote by raise of hands.  And while I would understood safety being the #1 priority, I was so glad to see the majority evaluated the conditions good enough and ruled this way…!

Balloon filling up

Yaay – the inflation process begins!

I was so glad I had kept my almost front row seat (even if the concrete curb was pretty uncomfortable) because I was close enough to feel the heat from the fire!

Baloon almost full

The next stage for this guy – almost there – while another one lifts off!

Airborne balloon

Airborne at last!

I loved how the crowd cheered as each one took flight and the pilots waved down to everyone.

Balloon Fest Collage

A collection of some of my favorite images and moments.

Balloon Fest Sunset

A pretty sunset framed the ones that stayed on the ground getting ready for the “After Glow” event when it got dark.

Balloon Fest After Glow

It was way cool to see them all light up at the same time against the dark sky.

I really loved this day, but now I have to add another thing to my “bucket list.”  I really, really want to take a ride in a hot air balloon at some point before my time in Michigan ends.  Wish me luck!

  • Glenda Alexander

    Indeed I do wish you luck in getting to take a hot air balloon ride.  I can say from experience that it is a very exciting.  I took one from Zilker Park to a field south of Austin on September 25, 2000.  We flew right over Mobile Manor, where I lived in my HitchHiker at the time and I got a photo of it.  I saw the entire inflation process and the deflation process after we landed.  We rode back in the chase vehicle to Zilker Park, where we participated in the balloonists’ traditional thanksgiving ceremony and received our certificates.  Here’s the link to my blog page, in case you’re interested:

    • Oh, yeah, now YOUR pictures made me want to go even more!  So cool that you got to see where you lived, and I also liked looking up into the balloon in the sunlight.  Thanks for sharing1 That picture of you at the top of the page is great!  🙂

      • Glenda Alexander

        Thank you.  Glad you liked them. 
        Keep on truckin’.

  • Purple Rose

    I hope you get to take a balloon ride – I’ve been up 3 times in different locations and they were all “awesome!” Maybe after your ride you will try and go to Albuquerque for the balloon fiesta – a great experience! My “bucket list” to start RVing -possibly full time. I enjoy your blog and all the info.

    • Thanks for adding your hopes to mine, Rose, for my balloon ride!  Now you’ve got my hopes added to yours that you get your bucket list item to start RVing.  I can recommend that in the same way you recommend the balloon ride!  🙂  Thanks for getting in touch!