Carolina Balloon Fest to make good on tickets

BalloonFest organizers respond to complaints

STATESVILLE, N.C. -- The Carolina Ballonfest in Statesville offered free tickets to Sunday's hot air balloon festival to Saturday ticketholders after having to cancel Saturday evening's scheduled balloon flight due to high winds.

Festival organizers say they will also try to make advance ticket holders happy who were turned away because of crowds.

Crowds left Saturday without seeing a single balloon take off when high winds forced the cancellation of a scheduled liftoff.

On the NBC Charlotte Facebook page, Jon W. wrote, "Spent 80 dollars and guess what? Saw not one balloon. Not even tethered."

"Balloons are regulated by the FAA; at a certain wind speed they cannot fly," said chairman Don Kelly of National Balloon Rally Charities, which organizes the Statesville event.

Kelly says the festival offered to honor Saturday tickets on Sunday. But some people could not come Sunday, just like a rainout at a race or a baseball game.

"We do our very best to get a flight in, but it's a game time decision," Kelly said.

Some other ticket holders complained they could not even get in because it was overcrowded.

Kelly says there was overflow parking and shuttles, but wants to make good on any advance tickets where people were turned away.

"And we've got to work on our plan for that but we are probably going to refund that, we'll give them tickets to next year or we've got some other ideas that might be cool," said Kelly.

In spite of balloons not flying on Saturday, they were fired up and tethered just after sunset.

"So we did have some ballooning for those who were patient enough to wait, and I understand it's a long day."

The hot air balloon festival is an Iredell County tradition with only one paid employee. Plus, the event benefits local charities.

On certain beautiful fall days, it can be a victim of its own success.


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