Hot Air Balloon Festival wraps up in style

Weather-affected festival still draws nice crowd.
Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 11:42 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - After a night one plagued by poor weather, Hattiesburg stayed dry long enough to have tethered rides to end the Hot Air Balloon Festival Saturday night.

Festivities started at 6 am Saturday morning and everyone had one thing on their mind: Balloon rides.

“I’m looking forward to that hot air balloon ride,” said Geraldine Liddell, who was attending the festival with her grandchildren. “It is on my bucket list and is something that I want to do, so I’ll be back at six.”

Even with weather in the radar again, people flocked to the Forrest County Multipurpose Center for the art and vendor exhibits, as well as the balloons.

“It has been just beyond our expectations as far as turnout,” said RISE volunteer, Linda Donnell. “It’s been wonderful and we’ve been able to have fun together.

“We’ve been able to talk about our ministry to a lot of people and let people know who we are, what we’re about and hope that people will remember that we’re all about rising together.”

Lines piled up to get into the gates, and cars were backed up to U.S. 49 trying to get into the festival.

With this kind of turnout, RISE is excited for the attraction they’ve established this weekend.

“I think in 10 years, this will be one of the biggest hot-air balloon festivals in the nation,” said Madyson Warren, a public relations intern with RISE. “This will put RISE on the map.”

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