A rally reborn
What do a balloon pilot, an accountant, and a wedding planner have in common? The answer: the 31st annual Teton Valley Balloon Rally. These three women stepped up when it seemed the valley’s Chamber of Commerce had lost interest in the rally. In the early years the rally was sponsored by Budweiser and was a 30 plus balloon rally. The community eventually decided that Budweiser was not the best choice to represent a family event and was removed as a sponsor. The rally continued with local sponsors but grew smaller as the years went on. Each year there was rumors of it being the last year and so Margaret Rose Breffeilh, Candy Davis and Virginia Powell Symons decided to remind the valley what the rally can do for the community by infusing the rally with some new blood. In 4 months, with only a few sponsors willing to take a chance on them, one local balloon and 5 out-of-town balloons willing to provide for their own lodging these 3 ladies put together a rally that succeeded on many levels.
Since the 4th of July was in the middle of the week this year the rally was held Monday, July 2nd to Wednesday the 4th. The launch site remained the same as past years, the fairgrounds on the north side of town. A new addition to field this year was an announcer to keep the crowds informed on what was happening and to introduce each pilot as they launched. The winds were light and steerable the first day with a couple of balloons passing over the airport runway as a jet took off below them.
With so few of us the organizers did a great job at keeping us fed by hosting BBQ’s at their homes giving the rally a much more social aspect it had been lacking in previous years.
To everyone’s disappointment Tuesday’s launches had to be cancelled because of wind. With everyday already booked some people will have to wait till next year to receive their rides. But any disappointment from the morning was redeemed that evening with the addition of a Main street event including a live band, dancing, vendors, a balloon science table and a balloon glow. Traditionally it is too windy at sunset but there is a calm time before that which allowed 4 balloons to stand up for the crowd in different places near the center of Driggs. The businesses were so busy that one gallery had to stop letting people in and the Corner Drug nearly ran out of ice cream.
The evening glow seemed to energize the crowd to make the trek out to the launch field the next morning. Margaret decided it would be best for her to tether on the field allowing even more people the chance for a small ride while the rest of us flew. All in all the event was a success and plans have begun for next year to double in size.