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Pellissippi Balloon Festival Rained Out

Despite plenty of colorful hot air balloons available for flight at the Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival Friday Sept. 22 and Saturday Sept. 23, the rain just would not let up.

Around 24 balloons were on hand, musicians scheduled and lots of food available, but the rain closed everything down Friday night and all day Saturday, leaving organizers without a chance to entertain a crowd for the third annual festival, said Julia Wood, director of community relations at Pellissippi State Technical Community College.

“We’ve had good weather for the past two years,” Wood said. “We’re all just very disappointed, but that’s just kind of the way it goes when you plan an outdoor event.”

Although the rain came pouring down Friday night, some enthusiasts came out with high hopes that the weather would stay clear.

Carolyn Goodman, a student in the nursing department at Pellissippi, volunteered as a ground’s crew member, but she made it a family event by bringing her son, Ryan Goodman, 8, out for a tethered balloon ride.

“I’ve always wanted to ride and learn about hot air balloons,” Carolyn said. “He wants to go up in the balloon; he plans on doing everything that’s here.”

Carolyn took part in a three-hour training session that involved being tethered up in a hot air balloon, and event that had her hooked on balloons, she said.

Some people came out to see country musician Julia Roberts perform Friday night right before the rain started, Wood said. Roberts recently performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Marshall Andy, a local country-style musician, opened for Roberts.

“She did great and people seemed to really like her performance,” Wood said.

Organizers hoped that the rain would stop in time for Saturday’s events, which have been favorites in the past.

“It just rained so hard and so much out there it was just becoming a swamp out there,” Wood said.

The most popular event of past years was the balloon glow, which involves all the hot air balloons lining up around a large pond and lighting up at night, Wood said.

This event was scheduled for Saturday night as well as a new performance by the Warriors of AniKituhwa, a traditional Cherokee dance group.

Last year 1,500 people attended the event, Wood said.

Tickets cost $10 for a car pass, and the money supports scholarship opportunities and new technology equipment for classes at Pellissippi.

The festival, which is the college’s biggest fund-raiser for the year, was listed on the 2006 Top 20 events by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Organizers at Pellissippi plan to put on the event again next year, hopefully during days with better weather, Wood said.


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