“A mass convergence of airborne color over the Hudson River” is how organizers of the 22nd annual Dutchess County Balloon Festival refer to the event that will launch on Friday, July 5 at Waryas Park on the Poughkeepsie waterfront. More than 15 hot-air balloonists from all over the country will take off from various sites all weekend (weather permitting). Viewing is free; rides in tethered balloons are available at varying cost.
The only place to see all the balloons in the area launch at the same time and place is to attend the morning mass launch at 6 a.m. on Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7. Balloons will take off from the docks of the Hudson River Rowing Association boathouse and float over the Hudson River. The Walkway over the Hudson will be open early to accommodate Festival attendees.
Most of the evening launch sites have just one balloon. Sites launching multiple balloons are noted on the schedule pages. Individual launches are scheduled throughout the county on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6 p.m., and there will be after-dark “Moon Glow” launches at Waryas Park and from the lawn of the Vassar Alumnae House. A complete list of launch sites and times can be found at www.dcrcoc.org/balloonfestival.
Anyone interested in taking a hot-air balloon ride during any of the weekend launches can call Bill Hughes of Blue Sky Balloons at (888) 999-2461 for prices and availability. Ride opportunities are extremely limited, so early planning is advised.
For questions about the Balloon Festival, a hotline manned with live representatives is available throughout the weekend at (845) 505-HOTT (4688). In advance of Balloon Festival weekend, direct all calls to the Dutchess Chamber of Commerce at (845) 454-1700, extension 1000, or make a post on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dutchesschamber. Up-to-the-minute information about launch times, including delays or cancellations, will be available via the Chamber’s Facebook page, and great photos of the Balloon Festival can be posted there, too, with the best ones possibly winning a prize.
Free parking is available at all locations on a first-come, first-served basis. At some sites, parking is limited and early arrival is recommended. Follow posted signs and/or volunteer instructions at each site, and plan to arrive about 20 minutes prior to the scheduled launch time at all sites to see the balloons inflate and rise.
Dutchess County Balloon Festival, Friday-Sunday, July 5-7, locations/posted on www.dcrcoc.org/balloonfestival.