Knoxville, TN May 1, 2019 – Organizers have announced that hot air balloon ride tickets are now on sale for the First Annual Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Fest. Balloon flights are scheduled on October 25 and 26, 2019 at the Chilton Farm in White Pine, Tennessee. Balloon enthusiasts are encouraged to “meet” the pilots on the festival’s website to learn more about their flight experiences and their colorful balloons.
Balloon Meister, Ray Fournier, owner of What’s Up Ballooning, will be orchestrating the weekend’s flights. “Watching the world go by suspended below a balloon is magical,” says Fournier. Fournier’s wife, Mary Ann will be bringing her balloon, Lucky Charm to the festival. Mary Ann has flown in numerous balloon festivals throughout New England, Ohio and Canada and also at the world’s largest, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, NM. With 25 Hot Air Balloons scheduled to participate, Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Fest will be Tennessee’s largest Hot Air Balloon gathering.
Pilot Mark Fritze will be traveling from Tallahassee, Florida with his balloon “Freedom Flyer.” Mark designed his balloon to be a patriotic tribute to the original thirteen colonies and to the US Constitution. “I really love to take people up for their “bucket list” experience,” Mark told festival organizers. With the backdrop of the autumn leaf season in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this will be a unique and memorable “bucket list” experience.
Flights are currently booking for morning and late afternoon launches. Special media day flights are scheduled for Friday, October 25 at 7 am. State officials will be onboard for these flights. On Friday afternoon, a special Make a Dream Come True flight is scheduled for a resident of The Pointe at Lifespring Senior Living in Knoxville, TN.
The event will also celebrate the agricultural roots of the 9 Lakes Region of East Tennessee, with participation by the Smoky Mountain Antique Engine & Tractor Association and a wine garden featuring dozens of local award winning wineries. “Nine Lakes Wine Country is proud to be a sponsor of this event. Our wines are some of the most celebrated in Tennessee and the grape and wine industry is one of the fastest growing segments of Tennessee Agriculture,” says Rick Riddle, event organizer and President of the Appalachian Region Wine Growers Association. “The grape and wine industry is unique in that it combines agriculture, tourism and economic development, allowing many family farms in Tennessee to diversify into value-added agriculture and agritourism.”
In the 1930s and ’40s, the Tennessee Valley Authority built 32 dams along the Tennessee River system to control flooding, generate hydroelectric power for remote regions, and create a 650-mile navigable route between Knoxville and the Ohio River. Six of those dams created nine lakes within an hour’s drive of Knoxville: Norris, Cherokee, Douglas, Melton Hill, Watts Bar, Fort Loudon, Tellico, Chilhowee and Calderwood Lakes. Today these Nine Lakes and their tributaries, combined with valleys and ridges surrounding them, provide a unique growing region for vineyards, which are flourishing on Tennessee’s gentle hills. The location for Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Fest is in Jefferson County on the shores of Douglas Lake.
For those wanting to guarantee either a tethered or untethered balloon ride, tickets are on sale at www.LOTSballoonfest.com. Untethered rides will be scheduled for early morning and late afternoon flights and are $250 per person. The flight plan will provide sweeping views of Douglas Lake and the Smokies. Tethered rides will be offered during the hours of the event and are $20 per person. The event will also feature shape balloons and nightly balloon glows, music, food trucks and kid’s activities including walk-in Hot Air Balloons.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council, a non-profit organization serving the sixteen counties of the East Tennessee Development District. The organization serves to support tourism promotion and asset development, and serves as the lead regional tourism agency under an annual contract with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The METTC membership is made up of area tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, chamber of commerce representatives, and other tourism businesses.
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