Flying High on Father’s Day/ Exploring Vermont’s Balloon Festival
look overhead, we see colorful shapes dotting the sky. Our world has been
transformed into an enchanted place as hot air balloons float above us and
crowds of people create a festive atmosphere. This is the Annual Father’s
Day Weekend Balloon Festival and Crafts Fair in Quechee, Vermont. What
better way to spend this special weekend than with fathers and grandfathers at
a spectacular family-oriented event that for 37 years has been bringing
together thousands of visitors to enjoy the simple pleasures of a shared
air balloons, of course, are the main attraction. On the first afternoon, you
see multi-colored, uninflated balloons, stretched out on the grass, striping
the landscape with vibrant fabrics that lie like rows of flowers in a textile
garden. It is here that the enormity of the envelope (the fabric top usually
made of parachute material) becomes apparent. When the balloons are hovering
among the clouds, they look like distant planets, and as they drift from sight,
they gradually diminish in size until they disappear entirely. But on the
ground, it is quite different. You must walk the length of the balloons, which
approaches 100 feet to fully appreciate their grandeur.
ascension is on Friday night. The roar of fans and furnaces signals the
impending flights, as empty envelopes are filled with cold air that is then
replace by the heated air necessary to provide the lift. As if by magic, the
billowing balloons begin to take shape, rise from a horizontal to a vertical
position, and wait, baskets attached, to be released into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, a carnival of colors plays out before our eyes. Blue zigzags, purple
stripes, oranges swirls and silver stars all form out of the shapeless folds.
Before long, there is barely enough room to contain the giant globes. At that
point, they begin to glide upward as each is released from its tether. The sky
becomes speckled, like a gigantic scattered rainbow. As the wind carries the
balloons, I think the slow-motion pace of their travel creates a kind of
oxymoronic tapestry, in which excitement and tranquility are simultaneously
ascension process is repeated again at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the following days.
After dark on Friday evening, the Balloon Glow takes place. While the
balloons remain grounded, they are inflated, and the spectacular glow of the
inner-lit envelopes brightens the night sky—all of it choreographed to music.
As impressive as the balloons are,
they are not the only attraction. This three-day event is also a bustling craft
fair featuring craftspeople and vendors, offering a wide range of products from
the funky to the fine. Many of the participants are members of the League of
New Hampshire Craftsmen and the Vermont Hand Crafters Association.
also lots of food vendors selling ethnic and fun foods, such as fried dough and
cotton candy, that make a fair a fair. Throughout the weekend, entertainers
provide the sound track, with blues, rock, bluegrass and folk music filling the
air and mingling with the local radio station that broadcasts from the
of all this is a family affair, so you’ll find plenty of child-friendly
activities such as mini train rides and face painting. And there’s even a
chance for the younger ones to explore the inside of a huge hot air balloon.
Annual Father’s Day Weekend Balloon Festival and Crafts Fair attracts
upwards to 20,000 people each year, accommodations fill up quickly, so plan
ahead if you want to stay the entire weekend. You won’t have any trouble
finding the place, just follow the balloons.