25th Anniversary Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival July 10-12

The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce will host its signature summer event, the 25th anniversary Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival, on July 10, 11 and 12, 2015.

About 100 balloon launches are planned throughout the weekend, utilizing a record number of 25 balloons.

“We’re really excited about our 25th anniversary balloon festival, which is set to be our best and biggest yet. It’s a great opportunity for the community to get out and enjoy first-hand all the great things our region has to offer. We’re sure the event will draw plenty of people out to our local businesses,” said Frank Castella Jr., president and CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s event has centralized the launches to draw more spectators to the event than ever before.

At 6 p.m. July 10 and 11, mass launches are planned on the banks of the Hudson River from the area just south of Shadows on the Hudson. Children’s activities will be provided by local nonprofit organizations in a tent sponsored by Dutchess ProPrint. There will be moon-glows – in which some balloons are fired up but not launched – at 8:30 p.m. Saturday on the waterfront. Evening launches and tethered balloon rides will also be held at Migliorelli Farm at 46 Freeborn Lane in Tivoli on Friday and Saturday, where there will be live music and barbecue as well.

At 6 a.m. July 11 and 12, mass launches are planned from the Dutchess County Airport. There will be breakfast-style food available for purchase.

“Balloon Tycoon” Joe Daily of Q92.1 will provide live updates on launch times, weather conditions, interviews with the balloonists and more live from a Balloon Weather Condition Briefing Station/Tent during the festival.

Balloonists will participate in a competition called Hare and Hound during the festival. The “hare” balloon takes off first, lands at a suitable site and lays out a large fabric “X” – usually about 50 feet in diameter. The other balloons are the “hounds,” and launch a predetermined time after the hare in an attempt to drop their markers as close to the center of the “X” as possible. The closest marker achieves the highest score. 

The Central Hudson Gas & Electric Balloon Festival Hotline at 845-505-HOTT (845-505-4688) will be staffed throughout the weekend. In case of inclement weather, any launch cancellation information will be immediately posted on the Balloon Festival website at www.dcrcoc.org/balloonfestival as well as the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce's Facebook page and Twitter @DCRCOC. Decisions to cancel or proceed with balloon launches are solely those of the pilots. Numerous factors contribute to unsafe conditions for ballooning, including rain, wind, lightning, etc.

About the balloonists

Pleasant Valley resident Kymberly Butler will pilot “My Witch's Broom.” She became interested in ballooning after crewing at Lutheran Care Center. 

Poughkeepsie resident Rich Hamilton holds a commercial pilot’s license and operates Adventure with Altitude Ballooning, LLC, in the Poughkeepsie area. Hamilton and has been involved in ballooning since he purchased a balloon ride for his wife's birthday many years ago. Since then, he and his family have attended festivals around the country.

East Fishkill resident Roger Hooper is the pilot of “Limelite,” who received his commercial pilot rating in 1994 and has flown his own balloons in festivals throughout the northeastern United States and Canada for the past 25 years. Hooper and his wife Shelly own and operate Hudson Valley Balloon Adventures of East Fishkill and enjoy flying with their daughter Erin in the Catskill Mountain Region of New York.

Bill Hughes of Poughkeepsie, a former Navy pilot with 45 years experience flying hot-air balloons, will fly the “Seagull” balloon. The organizer of the Mid-Hudson Hot-Air Balloon Festival for the past 25 years, he will retire this year. He operates a local balloon ride business in the Poughkeepsie area and has flown in many U.S. states, as well as Canada, Belgium and Japan.

Joe Moroney of Poughquag will pilot the “Discovery” balloon. He is a truck driver/safety manager with Clancy Moving Systems in Patterson, N.Y. He began helping out as a crew member after taking a ride in 2002.

Brian T. Smith of Poughkeepsie will pilot “Hover Girl.” A second-generation balloon pilot, he is also a local real estate broker based in Poughkeepsie who sold more than 200 houses in seven counties.

The Balloon Festival’s Anniversary sponsor is Q92.1. Other sponsors include Associa New York; Bonura Hospitality; Daily Planet; DCH Wappingers Falls Toyota; Hampton Inn;  HealthQuest;  Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union;  KeyBank;  Kirchhoff Green Energy;  M & T Bank;  MidHudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center;  Migliorelli Farm;  Orange County Trust Company;  Poughkeepsie Galleria;  Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel and Conference Center; Poughkeepsie Plaza; Quality Environmental Solutions & Technologies, Inc.;  TD Bank; and TEG Federal Credit Union.

The Balloon Festival hotline is sponsored by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. The activities sponsor for the festival is Dutchess ProPrint; the selfie station sponsor is Dutchess Cars and the emergency response sponsor is Mobile Life Support Services. 

photos provided