photos and review by Kyle Ober
The 34th Annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning was in full swing last weekend with over 70 Hot Air Balloons scheduled for accession twice each day (Fri, Sat, Sun). There really is nothing comparable to seeing 20 to 30 of these at a time take off and rise above you and silently drift with the wind, save the occasional blast from its burners. Although once it’s about 50 feet off the ground you don’t even hear it.
If you’ve never seen this poetry in motion you owe it to yourself the next time one is in your area. Supposedly, this NJ festival is the largest of its kind on the East Coast. It wouldn’t surprise me considering I saw crews that came from as far away as North Carolina and parts of Canada. Unfortunately, it did rain for a portion of the weekend, and being weather dependent, I know all the ascensions did not occur.
There’s also the huge bonus every year at this festival of great music on tap, usually along the lines of classic rock and the occasional newer act just getting started. This year was no exception. While I was there, a sampling of each hit the stage (see pics). That would be Third Eye Blind as well as The Girl & The Dreamcatcher (Dove Cameron / Ryan McCartin). Third Eye Blind was superb- playing all their hits, of course. Immediately after the show was a great display of fireworks. Can’t beat all that in one day / night
The rest of the music lineup over three days included KC & The Sunshine Band, Foghat and Steppenwolf. Wish I could have been, but I was toast after walking around for two days as it was. You can buy tickets for any of these shows, which affords you a seat on a first come first serve basis. However, the sound projects very nicely way beyond the seating area and quite frankly sounds even better…so you really can’t lose if you didn’t get a ticket.
During the hours between ascensions you can spend your time walking around the airstrip (as I did multiple times) looking at all the merchants, crafts and sampling various snacks and beverages. Considering the heat, I was highly grateful for any cold liquid I could swig!
Bottom Line- don’t miss this event next time around. You won’t regret it !!