Harvest Balloon Festival


I went all the way to Flowery Branch, GA, the town that is the practice home of the Atlanta Falcons, for a Hot Air Balloon festival.  I’ve always wanted to go see Freedom Aloft weekend in Greenville, SC, but plans on Memorial Day weekend always seem to include something else.  Harvest Balloon Festival would at least offer some picture taking opportunities, and my Photo club arranged a “meetup.”


I expected open fields with balloons.  What I found was a nice park area nestled in a sprawling residential development... a very nice one, to be sure.   We arrived at 4:00 to find ample kids activities (a couple rides, walking in a plastic bubble, pumpkin carving), a live band stage, two (2) food vendors (cold pizza and what looked like an overwhelmed amateur grill for burger and hot dogs) and... no beer?  No Italian Ice?  Heck, no CORNDOGS? 

Well, okay.  There were boiled peanuts.


The Harvest Balloon Festival is a fantastic neighborhood event, but it either lacks ambition on the part of the organizers or operates under a mandate of “family friendly and let’s dissuade it from growing too big” philosophy.

The afternoon was left to wondering about and taking pictures of “whatever.”


I’m okay with that.


But, let’s be honest. The best pictures to be had are of cute kids getting their faces painted, sliding down hills, throwing balls, and generally acting cute.  Taking pictures of them, these days, is no problem... if you’re the parent.  Otherwise, “Who is that strange middle aged man taking pictures of our kids?  And why?”

If it were my kids... understood, so no kid pictures.  That left time for goofy things, like Mr. Bendy here (not advertising a sale at the present time).   Mr. Bendy, although always full of motion, was further guided by 7-10 mph winds.  That’s a problem for hot air balloonists, it seems.


So, I was left with ample time to sit around and chat with other photographers while admiring their expensive lenses.  Some day...

Finally, dusk settled.


And the wind died down, and the various balloonists began unloading their trailers. 


Oh good.  It’s not a ReMax balloon. 

Let it get a bit later, and finally the question is resolved... how do you inflate a hot air balloon?  Well, with a Binford Turbo Mach One fan, of course, seen bottom left.  Tim the Tool Man Taylor would approve.   Actually, it’s a unlikely looking fan, powered by it’s own gas motor. 


Just hold the open the skirt of the balloon and fill it with non-heated air.  And then, when it’s getting some shape... turn on the jets.




And, voila!  One Clemson Tigers hot air balloon!  Awesomeness.  And no Georgia schools present.  Perfecto!

This was not intended to be an “aloft” event – that was planned for the next morning. Instead, it was to be a “Glow” event, with balloons lighting the area for cool effect.  And they did, though one balloon was tethered and offered rides up to 30’ or so.

Glow on:


Glow off:




And, finally, a picture of the park area.  You can click on any of the pictures for a hi-res view.  They look much nicer that way...



  1. This looks fantastic! Hot air balloons are so colourful and they just glow in the darkness. I didn't know they did balloon rides at night time, i'd love to have a go.

  2. Carolina Balloonfest in Statesville, NC was the same weekend as this one. The orange and purple balloon is in Clemson University colours and hails from Townville, SC.