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Harvest Balloon Festival brings fall fun to Flowery Branch
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Spectators watch the balloon-glow just after dark at last year’s Sterling on the Lake’s Harvest Balloon Festival. - photo by Get Out file photo

Harvest Balloon Festival

When: 1-8 p.m. Oct. 18 (festivities continue after dark); 8 a.m. Oct. 19

Where: Sterling on the Lake, 7004 Lake Sterling Blvd., Flowery Branch (Parking at Flowery Branch High School, with a shuttle service.)

Cost: $1 per person and parking free.

Tickets: $25 for 30.

More info: www.harvestballoonfestival.com

Giant balloons are once again descending — and ascending, then descending again — into Flowery Branch.

About 5,500 people are expected to attend the fifth annual Harvest Balloon Festival at Sterling on the Lake Oct. 18-19, with the majority of festivities taking place Saturday. A morning balloon launch is scheduled for Sunday.

Families will enjoy free hayrides along with access to activities with tickets; 30 tickets can be purchased for a $25 donation. Different activities require a different number of tickets; for example, hamster ball racing requires six tickets while pumpkin carving and painting can require 3-5, depending on the size of the pumpkin.

While returning guests will notice many similarities from previous years, a climbing rock wall has been added to this year’s events.

While taking part in all of the activities, spectators may enjoy the live music, eat fair food and adopt a cuddly new friend from the Hall County Animal Shelter.

Visitors can even go up, up and away in a hot air balloon ride, with tethered rides available.

“Saturday, that’s our festival,” said Jennifer Landers, vice president of operations with Newland Communities. “That’s the hayride and the pumpkin carving and all the games ... and at 5:30, the tethered balloon rides start. They go up about 30 feet in the air, and come back down.

“They have what’s called a ‘glow,’ as soon as it gets dark,” she continued. “So basically they do a tethered ride without a person inside. They light up. And then Sunday morning ... (there will be) the rides, the hourlong trips that they take. The pilots actually do a competition on Sunday morning.”

The morning balloon launch begins at 8 a.m. Oct. 19; rides are available for spectators, while the balloon pilots will compete.

Balloon rides are weather and wind permitting.

The event is inside of Sterling on the Lake; free parking is at Flowery Branch High School, with a shuttle service provided. Admission is $1.

Proceeds are split between the Hall County Animal Shelter and Challenged Child and Friends.

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