Up, Up and Away
ILFORD, N.H. -- Fly to the sky this weekend at the Northeast Food Festival and Balloon Rally Expo.
“From what I hear from people, I would just expect it to be a very peaceful, calm experience when you’re up in the balloon,” said Veronica Parsloe, festival director. “You can hear what is going on below but you’re so far above it.”
The hot-air balloon festival will be held Saturday, Sunday and Monday at The Hampshire Dome, 34 Emerson Road, in Milford, N.H.
One-day general admission for Saturday, Sunday or Monday is $15 per person, and a weekend pass for all days of the festival is $40 per person. Admission is free for all kids 12 and under.
Tethered balloon rides are $20 per person and can be purchased onsite, and full balloon rides start at $250. Tethered rides, weather permitting, will be available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., all weekend long.
“One of the first things I’m going to do is go up in a tethered ride,” Parsloe said. “It will actually be my first time going in a hot air balloon -- I’ve gone bungee-jumping and sky diving so I figured this has to be next.”
Full flights are booked by contacting the pilots directly; their contact information is northeastballoonfestival.com . Flights will be at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“If people show up for the morning viewing and decide last minute to book a flight and they’re there around 5 a.m., pilots will probably have spaces available, but it’s best to call in advance and book flights,” said Parsloe.
That way, she added, the pilots can answer any questions potential riders might have.
There will be plenty of activities to do and food to eat between take-offs.
Food trucks will have a lot of different options, including pizza, fried desserts, smoothies, nitrogen ice cream, lobster rolls, and healthy, gluten-free and vegan options. There will also be beer, wine and cider.
“We do have some vendors that will be open at 5 a.m., for the morning flights, which aren’t just for people taking a flight,” Parsloe said. “Anyone can come in and watch. It’s really beautiful to watch the inflations and is a great opportunity to take nice pics and get nice views.”
The 10 hot-air balloons will also be on display throughout the day. Pilots will be on hand to talk about their professional and personal background with flying.
“They take a lot of pride in their work,” Parsloe said. “It’s exciting to see the passion they have for the sport.”
Folks can also sit in the basket with the balloon inflated or walk inside an inflated balloon lying on its side. At the end of the night, all the balloons will light up for a “Balloon Glow” from 8:30 to 10.
“It’s one of the top favorites of people that attend because you’re going to have 10 very large balloons inflated and lit up and it’s completely dark -- it’s just beautiful,” Parsloe said.
During the day, there will be a kids zone with activities like rock-climbing, inflatables, a trampoline bungee, demonstrations, face-painting and a special visit by the New Hampshire Unicorns. Craft and kid-specific vendors will also set up site at the fairgrounds. Local New Hampshire and Boston-based singers and bands will provide music throughout the weekend.
“They used to have a balloon festival in this area for about 20 years before stopping a few years ago, and now that we are doing this festival, there are a lot of people who are saying they went with their family as a kid and want to bring their kids now,” said Parsloe. “It’s very family- and community-oriented.”
Parking is not available at the dome. There are six main lots that will have handicapped-accessible busing to the venue. Visit northeastballoonfestival.com for the locations of all parking sites. Shuttles will be running as early as 4:30 a.m., and end at 11 p.m.
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