Balloon Fest returns to Sussex County

Two-day event set Sept. 14
March 28, 2019

Sussex County’s Hot Air Balloon Festival is back.

The once-popular event will take place Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15 at Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown.

Organizer Gina Derrickson said the festival will feature hot-air balloon rides, tethered balloon rides, a balloon to walk around, entertainment, crafts, a kids area and food vendors. Derrickson said balloon rides must be reserved in advance through the festival website. The event benefits Sussex Academy in Georgetown.

The original Milton Balloon Festival was started by Dr. Charles Wagner in 1990 and ran for 13 years. Derrickson said Wagner, a hot-air balloon aficionado, was inspired to create the Milton festival after visiting the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, the largest hot-air balloon festival in the world. Looking for a way to raise funds for Sussex Academy, Derrickson said the school’s records secretary suggested a balloon festival.

“I contacted Dr. Wagner and he gave me some really good information,” she said “We’re ready to put it out there and get started on it.”

Derrickson said the event has required more planning than she had expected. Balloons will be provided by individual balloonists, so it has been a lot to coordinate. She said at this point, 12 balloons have committed to participate.

Derrickson said the website for the festival is not up yet but rides will be available on Saturday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday night. Saturday night will feature a Balloon Glow, she said, where all the balloons will go into the air and light up.

Safety, traffic control and parking issues are still being worked out, Derrickson said. She hopes this event will live up to the old festival.

“I hope it’s just as successful. Our goal is to grow it. To make it not only a community event but a tourist event,” Derrickson said.

Admission to the event will be free, but there will be a $5 charge to park. The festival will run from 2 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, and 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15.

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