Brookfield balloon festival to beckon in the crowds

The time of year has once again arrived for Brookfield’s hot air balloon festival, which will run from the 29th August through to 2nd September. The 37th annual Great Pershing Balloon Derby hopes to draw spectators in their thousands to the Missouri city to watch 40 pilots take part in races, flights and demonstrations. In addition, there will also be spectator contests, a parade of balloons, craft merchants, live music, food vendors, a ‘sidewalk sale’ and night time events will also be available.

Fran Graff, the event co-ordinator for 29 years, says the Derby is a huge event in Brookfield and something everybody looks forward to all year. It is also the longest running sanctioned balloon event in the US, allowing pilots to compete against one another for points so they can advance on a national level.

Prices to watch the races stand at $2 per person, or $6 per carload. Weekend passes are also offered for $15.

It is hoped that the weather this year will be acceptable for the balloons to fly, as heavy rain, high winds or storms will render the racing impossible. Graff said:

“The balloons can’t get off the ground if it’s too windy, they kind of flop over when they fill up. If the wind comes, it knocks the balloon over and catches it on fire. We have had many races that haven’t gone on because of the wind.”

While only pilots’ sponsors will be allowed on rides, other spectators will have a chance to see the balloons close up throughout the nightly activities, and ask the pilots questions.

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