The volunteer organizers of the Freedom Balloon Fest, produced by Project Uplift USA, Inc. are pleased to announce the fourth annual community event. This celebration honors the service of our nation's military families and remembering our fallen heroes. Members of the military, their families, and the entire community are invited to attend the three-and-a-half-day event featuring dozens of hot air balloons and entertainment for all ages.
“Freedom Balloon Fest is truly a magical event,” said Brian Hoyle, a volunteer organizer with Project Uplift USA. “Whether you’re watching a mass ascension of dozens of hot air balloons taking flight or captivated by the magic of the balloon ‘glow,’ it’s an experience you’ll never forget. And don’t forget the hundreds of volunteers who work and collaborate to bring the festival to life each year as we celebrate and honor the sacrifice of our military families. After all, volunteering is the spirit exemplified in our military families in the era of all-volunteer armed forces.”
Freedom Balloon Fest 2018 will officially open at 2 p.m. Friday, May 25 and run through noon Memorial Day on Monday, May 28. There will be an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. on Friday with a dedication of the Field of Flags living memorial space. About an hour before sunset, weather permitting, there will be a mass ascension of most of the participating balloons followed by a balloon glow just after dark. The festival continues Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings with competition balloon flights. Competition ramps up a notch this year as Freedom Balloon Fest is the site for the 2018 NC State Balloon Championship. The top pilot will go on to represent North Carolina in the Balloon Federation of America US National Championships. Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening, spectators will enjoy a mass ascension or “fly-in event,” and a balloon glow. A few of the balloons will be providing tethered rides. All balloon events are wind and weather permitting. Freedom Balloon Fest concludes on Memorial Day with the decommissioning ceremony of the Field of Flags at 11:00am with a final convoy down Main Street, Fuquay-Varina immediately following (approximately 11:30a.m.).
More than 30 balloon pilots and teams from around the nation are expected to attend the festival, drawing pilots from across the region and as far away as Austin, Texas. Other entertainment includes military displays, vintage amusement rides, an arts-and-crafts village, Statewide American Legion Car Show & Competition. There will be dozens of food options and nearly 14 hours of live music on the RE/MAX Stage.
Jamie Manker, Principal Deputy Under Secretary Veterans Benefits Administration, will be an honored guest for the festival’s opening ceremonies this year. Mr. Manker is a 25-year retiree from service in the Air Force. Along with honoring the assembled Gold Star family members, Mr. Manker will discuss the ongoing modernization of Veterans Association as it works to serve the needs of all veterans now and in the future. He will also be requesting feedback from the families and veterans served by the VA.
Project Uplift USA was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Craig Newmark Philanthropies to support Project Uplift USA’s mission. Its mission focuses on reaching out to military families and children with mobility challenges, providing educational programs, and remembering and honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation. One of Craig Newmark Philanthropies’ four priorities includes veterans and military families.
For more information about the Freedom Balloon Fest, including a schedule of events, what to expect and how to get involved visit www.freedomballoonfest.com. Attendees are also encouraged to plan their festival experience by downloading and using the free “Project Uplift USA” app. The app is available in the App Store and Google Play. Guidebook, a festival partner with local offices in Raleigh, developed the Project Uplift app.
Contact: Brian Hoyle