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Big is BIGGER in the Texas Hill Country

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Big is BIGGER in the Texas Hill Country

By Jeromy Kusch
     Photos taken by Rebekah Jean Photography

There are few things Texans enjoy more than food, fun, and BIG things – throw in a little fire, and you have yourself a real Hill Country party. Once again, a group of Texans prove they can do it “bigger and better,” with the best of them, by creating the Texas Balloon Spectacular.

Over 50,000 Texans flocked to Floresville in October, for food, fun, and the biggest “BIG” they could find, hot air balloons. A dozen balloon pilots and their crews from across Texas joined in the festivities to share their gigantic hobby with the expectant crowds.

Big is BIGGER in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Visitors get up close to the balloons – ascendimagery.com

To fully understand just how big these balloons are, one must get up close and personal, and spectators did just that. Balloon crews and pilots were eager to allow their curious onlookers a chance not only to see the lift off, but also to be engulfed by the giant ductile envelopes.

Despite being overrun by strollers, chairs, and elated children, crews cautiously navigated the throngs as they prepared their balloons. Cold inflation is the first step after setting up the baskets and rolling out the envelope. Balloon teams open the envelope using large fans as they prepare for the burn. Spectators took full advantage of the opportunity, walking around, touching and even walking inside some of the balloon envelopes. “They weren’t limiting the number of people that went in, and there were a ton of people in there, they were huge” one onlooker observed.

Big is BIGGER in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Balloons lift-off early Saturday morning – ascendimagery.com

Sponsors and their guests were given full flights in the balloons on the mornings of Friday and Saturday. Those spry enough to rouse themselves for the 7:30 a.m. lift-off times, enjoyed a peaceful, but invigorating sight as the balloons lifted from the ground and were carried out of site. Morning winds, discouraged some pilots from flying, but most pilots bravely navigated the windy conditions giving their riders a once in a lifetime experience.

One morning, a daring pilot and her passengers were swept up and carried far beyond their 3-mile flight radius, for 20 minutes the balloon travelled at the mercy of the wind. Eventually the pilot and her passengers were reunited with the ground 30 miles away in Poteet.

Big is BIGGER in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Balloon “Air Apparent” prepares for flight – ascendimagery.com

Wind grounded flights Friday evening, but order was restored on Saturday afternoon when spectators climbed in the baskets for their own short rides. Tethered to nearby trucks and skillfully held to the ground by experienced crews, fans took flight. Short flights took visitors dozens of feet off the ground, providing them an invigorating experience.

During the down time visitors enjoyed live music from local and award winning bands, and it wouldn’t be a real Texas event without a ton of food. The ever-present funnel cake and corn dog made way for the anything-goes fried food varieties, but it wouldn’t be a true Texas event without fire.

Big is BIGGER in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: The night glow drew large crowds – ascendimagery.com

The “Night Glow” was a fitting reward for those who managed to survive the warm afternoon and the long lines to get in. Even more popular than the flights, the night show was a phenomenal event to behold. Balloon crews squeezed their buoyant envelopes closely together along the pond as the sun set below the horizon.

Once vertical, pilots, while tied to a nearby truck or under the control their crews, would blast their burners, lighting up the balloon like a giant living night light. Tens of thousands of onlookers cheered the display as pilots synchronized their blazing display.

The Texas Balloon Spectacular was the perfect Texas event for all Texans.

See more Texas Balloon Spectacular pictures and video gallery here (http://www.ascendimagery.com/events/)