The 38 Teton Valley Balloon Rally will take place on June 29 through July 1, in the Teton Valley Fairgrounds in Driggs, ID.
Virginia Symons, Executive Director of the rally said the event began in 1981 at Driggs, Idaho.
“At that time the event was hosted by Budweiser, and would draw upwards of 40 balloons,” Symons said. “At that time Teton Valley was a sleepy little agriculture community and this was a really big defining event for the community.”
She said over the years the event has had multiple owners and managements and in 2012 the Chamber of Commerce in Teton Valley decided to discontinue the event.
“This was after 30 years of the event, and Margaret (Teton Valley Balloon Meister) and I, being a balloon pilot and an event planner, decided that wasn’t something we were ready to see happen,” Symons said.
Symons said that same year they took over management and with little funding or support they were able to bring seven pilots to Teton Valley because they loved the event and wanted to keep supporting it.
“In the years since then while the event hasn’t grown too much in size, we generally have 10 to 12 pilots attend each year, we really developed a different structure for it,” Symons said.
In 2015 Teton Valley Balloon Rally gained the status of a non-profit organization.
“We are now a non-profit organization promoting really incredible programming for school kids about art, science and aviation,” Symons said.
She said the focus of the event has changed over the years as well.
“We are really working on becoming more relevant and make an impact the valley,” Symons said.
The balloon rally takes a whole year to plan and prepare for, Symons said.
“We work on the Teton Valley Balloon Rally year round,” Symons said. “Each year we have to get back in touch with our existing sponsors, recruit new sponsors, take a look at the budget and see what our goals are for the year.”
Symons said the number of sponsors they have each year determines the number of pilots they will be able to have in the event.
She said people can expect to see 10 pilots launching from the Fairgrounds each morning. They are recommending spectators to arrive before six a.m. if they want to see the hot air balloons take off.
Symons said she has two favorite things about this event: getting involved with the community, and seeing how happy the kids are watching the balloons.
“I love the community that I have become a part of in this, that has been a really amazing experience for me,” Symons said. “As the mother of a young child, I think that my favorite part where I get the goosebumps, is when I see the little kids in the field watching these huge balloons inflate all around them.”
She said watching the kids is a reminder to her that there is still beauty and magic out in the world.
For more information about the event you can visit tetonvalleyballoonrally.org.