Balloon Festival “as close to being a bird as you get”

Gulf Coast Balloon Festival

It’s up, up and away in Foley this weekend as the 10th annual Gulf Coast Balloon Festival takes off. More than 40 balloons will take to the skies, while there will be family fun for those that keep their feet on the ground.

It just might be the most colorful event of the year. The Gulf Coast Balloon Festival brings dozens of brightly decorated balloons to the skies of Baldwin County.

Magnolia Springs native and event organizer Tommy Rachel described what a flight is like. He told us,“A balloon flight is not like any other flying. I think it’s about as close to being a bird as you’re going to get.”

Rachel has helped organize the festival since its inception ten years ago. He does it, because he loves it.

“The scenery down here is great if you ever get a chance to fly down here you won’t be disappointed,” Rachel said.

Pilots come in from all over the country to take part. Montgomery balloon pilot, Randy Sedlak told us, taking up first timers is always fun.

“Almost everybody is a little bit nervous at first but then they settle down and I had a guy a couple of weeks ago say ‘This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done!’”, Sedlak said.

Whether or not there’s weather

Morning thunderstorms kept the balloons grounded early Friday. As you can imagine, piloting a balloon is extremely dependent on the weather, but in between the weather there will be a lot of fun family activities at the festival.
The famous Frisbee dogs will be doing exciting shows. There will also be art, food, and entertainment, but of course the main attraction will be the balloons floating in the sky above Foley.

Ashley Watkins, with the festival told us it’s a sight to see. “It’s just a breath taking view over the skyline to see all the colorful balloons in flight. It’s just something so unique I just can’t even describe it in words, it’s amazing.”

And you have just one chance a year to see it.

Come on down

The Gulf Coast Balloon Festival runs Friday and Saturday. The best viewing of the balloons will be early in the morning and at dusk at the Foley sports complex off Highway 98.

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