Up, up and away

Balloon Festival on tap this weekend

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Many spectators stop in at the different craft and food vendors during the first day of the Northeast Balloon Festival at the Hampshire Dome in Milford Saturday morning.

MILFORD – The first day of the Northeast Balloon Festival took off bright and early Saturday morning with a sunrise ride to set the tone for the holiday weekend.

The festival is taking over the Hampshire Dome at 34 Emerson Rd., Milford for three days. So, if folks missed Saturday’s start to the festival they will still have the opportunity to swing by on Sunday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have a total of ten balloons, and we have a special shaped balloon called “Pig Headed” that’s shaped like a pig’s head and it has a cute curly tail on the back,” Veronica Parsloe, Festival Director, said. “We also have a Remax balloon as our sponsor, and we have plenty of other balloons.”

She said people from all over New England, and even as far as Florida, have come up to Milford to be a part of the festival.

“We actually booked a flight with someone from Texas, so people from around the country are coming to the Northeast Balloon Festival to enjoy it and see the beautiful views that New Hampshire has and New England has,” Parsloe said. “So, it’s a great experience, especially for people from far away.”

Mark and Rita McCabe, Owners of Sub zero in Nashua, attended the Northeast Balloon Festival at the Hampshire Dome in Milford in style, serving up some unique treats for attendees. They make their ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

However, during the morning hours on Saturday not everything floated into place as smoothly as the first early morning balloon ride. After that first ride came to an end, all of the balloons needed to refuel, and they got delayed in doing so.

“Really the only issue we’ve had is that some people weren’t seeing the balloons for the past couple of hours right after the flights in the morning and it’s because they flew away,” Parsloe said. “After their flight, where they’ve spent about an hour burning propane, they have to refuel. So, the only issue we’ve really had is just sort of the one hour a day when there isn’t a balloon on the field.”

However, aside from falling slightly behind schedule, she said this has been a great experience. Aside from the hot air balloons, the festival also features live music, food trucks, tons of craft vendors from all over New England and a lively kids zone, which has bounce houses, a rock climbing wall and a euro bungee.

So, in the meantime, while waiting for all ten balloons to fuel up each of their tanks with propane, people had other things to keep occupied with.

She said for full hot air balloon rides, the price starts at $250 per person, and that the pilots prefer that they are booked in advance, which can be done online at, https://www.northeastballoon

festival.com/balloon

rides/. Tethered rides are also available for a fraction of the cost at just $20 per person and can be purchased on-site.

“It’s a great experience for people who are new or a little hesitant to the concept of going on a full hot air balloon ride,” Parsloe said. “It lets them go up about 50 feet in the air and just kind of feel what it’s like.”

Given that this festival offers such a unique experience, Parsloe said she expects maybe 20,000 people to pass through over the course of the weekend, but that it’s hard to say. Nonetheless, plenty of people packed onto shuttle buses at different locations to make their way over to the event.

Also, Parsloe said on both Saturday and Sunday nights they are offering attendees a special experience with a balloon glow once the sun starts to set. This spectacle features all ten balloons, weather permitting, that light up the entire field behind the dome around dusk. The balloons will be burning their flames along with the music, so while people are listening they will be seeing huge balloons lighting up before them. She said this component of the event is a very unique experience.

“The Hampshire Dome has been very supportive and we just see it as a great benefit for the community to come out and have a great time,” Parsloe said.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.