Australian hot air balloon event proves more popular than important local rugby game

The Australian National Balloon Championships have attracted huge crowds at Canowindra recently, as the event celebrated its 18th year.

The event was held around 700km to the south-west of a City-Country rugby fixture, which was billed as a State of Origin trial and drew a crowd of around 4,600 fans. Conversely, an estimated 15,000 people came to see the Balloon Glow Festival last Saturday, but while that number dropped considerably the following day, the crowd numbers on Sunday were still far higher than the number of people who went to watch the game.

Pilots at the event were trying to qualify for the 2014 world championships in ballooning, which will be held in Brazil.

Politician Troy Grant spoke about the events, pointing out that the support for the ballooning spectacle over the course of the weekend seemed much larger than the support for the City-County fixture, which he called “disappointing”.

According to Grant, the crowd at this year’s Balloon Glow Festival was more than double the number of spectators recorded last year, and there was reportedly little accommodation left in the region.

Some observers put the poor turnout at the rugby fixture down to a mixture of high ticket prices and the fact it took place at the same time as the grand final for the A-League.

Canowindra, a village in New South Wales, is largely considered to be Australia’s top location for hot air balloon rides. The ballooning events continue this week and finish on Friday 26th.

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