The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








The hot air balloons often graze the Suncook River before going hundreds of feet into the air.

Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally 

When: Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6
Where: Drake Field, 17 Fayette St., Pittsfield
Cost: Free admission. Food, beverages and carnival, helicopter and tethered hot air balloon rides all have separate fees.
Schedule of events
Friday, Aug. 4
3 p.m. Midway Carnival rides open
5 p.m. Helicopter rides begin
5:30 p.m. Balloons liftoff
8:30 p.m. Nightglow
Saturday, Aug. 5
5:30 a.m. Balloons lift off
5:30 a.m. Pancake breakfast
10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Crafters open
11 a.m. Midway Carnival rides open
2 p.m. Helicopter rides begin
3 p.m. BMX bike show
5:30 p.m. Balloons lift off
8:30 p.m. Supper Night Glow
9:30 p.m. Fireworks
Sunday, Aug. 6
5:30 a.m. Balloons lift off for final launch
5:30 a.m. Rotary scrambled egg and bacon breakfast
8 a.m. Awards for balloonists and sponsors
9 a.m. Frank H. Donovan 5K Road Race

Full of hot air
Balloon rally returns to Pittsfield

By Ethan Hogan

 For one weekend every year, thousands of people converge in Pittsfield to see hot air balloons float over the small Suncook Valley town. This year, 14 hot air balloons will take off from Drake Field at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, to kick off the three-day event.

The event has been held for 36 years, according to Fallon Reed, co-chair of the Balloon Rally. It was the summer before ninth grade when Reed’s family moved to Pittsfield and she first experienced the hot air balloons. Now, 16 years later, Reed is organizing the event, which she said never stops amazing her.
“How many people in their lives get to say they’ve seen and touched a hot air balloon? It’s a great little gem in New Hampshire,” Reed said. “I’ve been hooked ever since.”
The balloons weigh over 500 pounds and spectators will get to see the giants lift off at least three times over the course of the weekend, if weather permits, Reed said. The first scheduled takeoff is on Friday at 5:30 p.m., then again on Saturday at 5:50 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m.
The balloons drift across the Suncook Valley and usually stay within town but Reed said there have been years where the balloons end up in Concord or Northwood. 
“Once you get up there it’s wherever the wind takes you,” said Reed. 
If the weather is right, the pilots will try and dip their baskets into the Suncook River Reservoir. The maneuver makes for an amazing photograph, according to Reed. 
Tethered hot air balloon rides will also be available for $10 so attendees can experience the 100-foot-high flights. Reed took a tethered ride herself and said the experience was worth the long lines.
“It was super surreal because you felt like you were in a bubble because it was so calm and so clear. If you were to sit on a cloud, that’s how I feel it would be,” Reed said.
On Saturday, at 8:30 p.m. the hot air balloon pilots will fire up their propane engines and illuminate their balloons in the dark. Reed said they look like fireflies.
The marquee feature of the weekend-long event is the hot air balloons, but there are also carnival rides, food, fireworks and helicopter rides.
The $30-per-person helicopter rides give you a true aerial tour of the town. Reed said that each ride takes four people up for a scenic view of the area. While the pilots typically stay on the same pre-determined route, they have been known to take special requests so that people can get a view of their homes.
Admission to the festival is free but guests are encouraged to purchase food, crafts and rides, as a portion of the proceeds goes back to the Suncook Valley Rotary Club. The rotary club donates money to help end polio, raises money for scholarships and helps organize events for the Police and Fire departments.
There will be fair fries, Mexican-style food truck cuisine, fried dough and many more food options at the rally. 
“I have never left the hot air balloon rally hungry,” said Reed.
The weekend’s hot air balloon events are all dependant on weather and Reed said her team is doing an anti-rain dance. 

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