Last weekend, we had a free Saturday for once.  Shocking, I know.  Since we moved to Bedminster, I had seen signs last year and heard tons of ads this year for the 28th Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning.  I’ve never really seen hot air balloons up close and personal, and thought it might be fun to see tons of them launch into the summer sky.  So, off we went.

If you plan to go next year, I’d recommend buying tickets online.  Our tickets online were $17 each plus a service charge of $3 each, as compared to the $25 at the door.  I’ll admit, I thought this ticket price was a bit steep to simply watch balloons.   I looked on the Web site for the festival and could tell they had vendors and concerts, but I wasn’t sure how robust this would be.

The Festival FAQs specifically say that traffic gets bad around 4:30 p.m.  We found out that the balloons can only go up at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., since this is when the wind is at its best for flying.  We decided to get to the festival around 3:45, and had no trouble getting in and parking.  The lines to have tickets scanned were not long at all.

The festival was pretty packed.  Not in a bad way,but there were definitely some lines to look at things in booths.  We were pretty pleased with all of the free samples (Dr. Pepper, Haagen Daaz, Turkey Hill, M&M/Mars to name a few) and were able to get those without a problem.  While a lot of the booths ran out of samples before we got there (pretty poor planning, I guess!) we still felt like we got a decent amount.

From a vendor perspective, I thought the festival was lacking variety.  There were a lot of home renovation type booths, such as windows, cabinets, etc., but not a lot of craft vendors.  The ones that were there did not really spark my interest, but maybe it was just me.  There were some cute balloon crafts if that’s your thing, but other than that, nothing too interesting.  For kids there were a lot of cute carnival type rides, and if we had kids, this is definitely a great place to take them.  The concert tents were also fun, along with the air conditioned Quick Chek tent that actually was like a little mini store!!

The launching of the balloons certainly lived up to my expectations.  It was really a very beautiful thing to watch.  I can’t say for sure how many balloons were there, but it must have been at least 40, if not more.  There was an announcer that kept us informed as to what would happen, and the “Master Balloonist” was on the air waves with her too, sharing information about how the balloons worked.  It was really very informative and just a cool thing to watch. 

Up, Up, and Away!

On our way home, we actually got to see some of the balloons landing, since they were near our house!  We did leave about 3/4 of the way through the launches to avoid the traffic build up. At first I was mad that Jared wanted to do this, but when I saw how cool it was to watch them land, I forgave him.  🙂

This is definitely a worthwhile event for the whole family.  While it’s not guarenteed you will see the balloons launch if the weather is poor, we got lucky and definitely got the full experience.  Another great local event to add to our list for next year!