Every year, I circle the date of the Flag City Balloon Fest on my calendar. To me, it’s not just another festival. It’s a can’t-miss event.
It starts with the community.
I always end up seeing someone I haven’t seen in forever. There are always hugs and exclamations like, “I’ve missed you!” There’s always a sense that you’re coming home to loved ones.
Even if you don’t know anyone, there’s this feeling that everyone there is a part of something together. Whether the balloons are glowing or a concert is happening, that sense of community is strong.
And then there are the traditions.
The countdown to the glow is a personal favorite. We all do it together and then the balloons magically come to life in the darkness. Even the most cynical adult can’t help but say, “WOW!”
Another favorite comes from a time that I was lucky enough to go up in a balloon. After I came down, Visit Findlay’s balloon pilot, Phil Clinger, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice as he told us the story of hot air balloons. He told us how people would bring bottles of champagne to give to people after they landed. And then he poured a little of the juice and dirt over my head to celebrate my first hot air balloon ride. He does this for everyone and it always feels special.
And then there is the food.
I may be a fair food junkie. I love getting a little something deep-fried every year.
Splitting a deep-fried cheesecake with a friend as we watched the fireworks light up the sky will always be a favorite memory.
And then there is the pure wonder of it all.
It just seems magical that balloons float like they do. Just seeing them dot the sky with their bright colors never gets old. And I don’t care how many times Phil explains the particulars of it to me, I will always be convinced that fairy dust is the secret ingredient to making them fly.