The History of the Bluegrass Balloon Festival in Louisville Ky

What started out as an event to raise donations for charity has now become one of the nation’s top balloon festivals. The original balloon festival began in 1999 as the “Adam Matthews Balloon Festival.” The first balloon festival began when 52 balloons gathered at Bowman Field in Louisville Kentucky. This was to be an historic event in Kentucky’s aviation legacy at historic Bowman Field; which is the nation’s oldest operating airport.

In 2000 the second Adam Matthews Balloon Festival had now grown to the arrival of 70 hot air balloons coming from all across the United States. Now, there was a waiting list for hot air balloons attending the festival. The festival was now beginning to take shape with an ever growing number of spectators and hot air balloons in attendance.

Then in 2007 the “Spirit of Kentucky” foundation purchased the Adam Matthews Balloon Festival for $1 just five weeks before the show. A flawless festival was put together as volunteers helped out to make a complete success from the largest attendance the festival had seen since its beginning back in 1999.

Now, the festival had been reborn as the “Bluegrass Balloon Festival.” This year the festival was rated as a “top twenty” event by the Southeast Tourism Society. With new activities in the festival each year the opportunities were endless and the sky was now literally the limit.

Last year’s Bluegrass Balloon Festival of 2008 celebrated as pilots from all over the country arrived and competed for $40,000 in cash prizes. The balloon festival has now expanded to include an: art festival, volleyball tournament, charity walk, and also a breakfast with the balloons.

Donations from the 2008 festival went to: Kosair Children’s Hospital, Down Syndrome of Louisville, and other organizations. The impact of the balloon festival’s donations has since reached out to touch many in the surrounding communities.

And now, the Bluegrass Balloon Festival for 2009 expects to be the largest festival of them all. The balloon festival this year is September 25th-27th at Bowman Field. Festival sponsors this year (Meijers and Dean’s Milk) showcase a 90 foot birthday cake from Miejers and Chuggles; the Dean’s Milk balloon.

The three day event features such activities as: a children’s fun zone, art festival, wine and beer garden, two firework shows, along with a volleyball open, and endless balloon activities and races. The events for this years show are as follows.

Friday September 25th is the Ferrillgas Balloon Education day where children from local area schools participate in science activities. 5pm Friday is the Bluegrass Balloon Festival’s opening ceremony. The Kentucky sampler food court is also provided along with the beer and wine garden.

A balloon glow will be from 6pm to 9pm. The Saturn of Louisville fireworks show will be featured from 9:00 pm to 9:30 pm. The Monarchs will play from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm, and will then end the evening with a show from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

On Saturday September 26th the balloon race is from 7am to 8:30 am. Also on Saturday is the YMCA and junior league charity walk “Run wild” along with a breakfast with the balloons. You can enjoy the Ferrillgas Balloon Education Center, or you can just sit back and listen to the music of Kimmit and Doug. Also on Saturday night is another Saturn of Louisville fireworks show from 9:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

Sunday September 27th, features another balloon race which starts off the day along with the volleyball open from 10am until 4pm. Also during the day on Sunday is the “Wings and Wheels” auto and airplane show from 12:00 noon to 4pm. The Bluegrass Balloon festival ends on Sunday at 4:30 pm.

Admission for the festival is $2.00 per person to walk in, or $10.00 a carload. Either way you go the day is assured to be loaded with entertainment and excitement for the entire family. All of the proceeds from festival admissions go to benefit children’s charities.