Changes Coming to Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival

NBC 33

POSTED: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 5:08pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 7:44am

Big changes are on the way for the most colorful festival in Ascension Parish. Organizers are hoping private donations will help it's annual hot air balloon festival stop losing money. NBC 33's Rachael Penton has the story.

The blue skies of ascension parish are filled with color each september, but it's not because of autumn leaves.

"They're all multi-color to see the balloons in the morning in the crisp, clear air with the sun shining. The sun reflecting off of it. It's a sight to see," says Robert Ambeau, Balloon Meister.

Organizers are busy preparing for the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival, formerly known as the Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Championship.

"We would love for this to be the signature event of Ascension Parish," says Martin McConnell, festival organizer.

But the name isn't the only thing changing this year. Visitors can expect a large variety of entertainment including a carnival, live music, a barbeque competition, fireworks and of course- balloon rides.

"They want to get a feel. They want to get in the basket and they want to go and they want to see what it feels like," says Ambeau.

"The last weekend of September 30 pilots will meet here at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center to show off their colorful balloons before they take them to the skies of Ascension Parish."

"They'll be flying over the Ascension Parish so in other words everybody in Ascension Parish will get to see the balloons."

Other changes to the festival include the way it's being funded.

"No public funding involved in this event. It is completely paid for by sponsorships," adds McConnell.

Last year the event lost more than $150,000 and organizers think the changes will make this year's festival stronger than ever.

"Let's give it one more try. Let's see if we can make this happen and we're going to prove them right this year."

So look to the skies this September as the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival takes off for the third and possibly the best year yet.

"I say it makes the kids excited. I see more people forty, fifty years old get excited just like the kids do."

The festival runs the last weekend in September. Admission will run you about $2.00.  

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