Sunday, August 3, 2014

Would You Ride in this Beautiful Balloon?

Happy 30th anniversary to Binghamton's Spiedie Fest and Balloon Launch. 

I started to go to our Spiedie Fest when it was basically a balloon launch, a spiedie cooking contest (what's a spiedie?  Click here and try it!) and some craft booths.  Now it has become concerts, meet and greets, lots and lots of vendors, a 5K run and - hidden somewhere in this, a celebration of spiedies, our local food.
I don't necessarily dislike meet and greets.... anyone recognize this gentleman?

A spiedie is a marinated meat - the traditional lamb, or chicken, beef, pork, venison - marinated in oil, herbs and vinegar - grilled and then served on Italian bread.  

And a confession - I don't like them that much!  I have a problem with swallowing (I've had to have my esophagus stretched once already) where I can't eat certain dry foods - and this, along with things like toasted bagels, just don't work good for me.

But I love the balloon launches.  And, sometimes you run across someone special.

Anyone recognize this gentleman?  (Ah, those meets and greets.  I just stumbled into this one as he was leaving, lucky me. And yes, my spouse of 40 years was there to catch me when I fainted. Kidding.)

Here's what I wrote about the launch process last year.

Simply Summer - Up Close At A Balloon Launch

Perhaps you've seen them go "up and away!"  You may have seen hot air balloons in the sky, and maybe you've even taken a ride in one of them.  If you are truly fortunate, you've been to a hot air balloon festival.

But how close have you ever gotten to one during the launch process?

At this weekend's Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally, in Binghamton, New York, you could get close to the balloons, and watch the entire process from the time the trailer is unloaded, until the balloon is up in the air.  This is a Spiedie Fest tradition, the closeness to the process, and one that we cherish, no matter how big the Spiedie Fest has gotten from its start some 29 years ago.

It's amazing how quickly they can set up and launch.  They are used to last minute decisions, as a launch on an otherwise sunny day can be ruined by wind.

First come the trailers that carry the balloons. I love the advertising on the side and back.
Then, they unload the basket.
The team installs the burner unit.

Meanwhile, out comes the bag with the envelope.
This is "the envelope", stretched out on the ground.

The inflation process doesn't take long at all. (Not shown, the fan used in the process.)   At this point, you are running from one place to another, as balloon crews shoo spectators to a safe distance.  The excitement consumes the spectators, who are busy taking pictures, but the team has a job to do.
As the envelope inflates, team members hold it by attached straps.
Upright and only moments from launch, as the pilot and others enter the basket.
Right at the moment of launch.

And finally, up in the air with the glow and fire of the burner visible.

Watching balloons launch - what a way to spend a beautiful summer late afternoon.  The Spiedie Fest is well worth your trip next August to the Binghamton, New York area.  Remember this:  first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in August.

Have you ever been to a hot air balloon festival?


  1. I love to watch hot air balloons! They are so magnificent! We used to have them at our fourth of July festival every year! Sadly, they did away with the festival here. There is one 30 miles away that I would love to go see one day. Thank you for sharing this lovely post and for reminding me how awesome they are!

    1. You are so right - they are magnificent. Love them!

  2. I've never heard of a spiedie before, but they sound tasty. I wonder if I can find one in NYC? How neat to watch a festival grow and expand. The hot air balloons are so beautiful, but I would have to settle for being a spectator. I would be absolutely terrified to go up in one with all of the mishaps I've seen lately on the news. Spiedie Fest looks like a really lovely time.

    1. I've never seen spiedies in Brooklyn - I think they are a regional specialty of the Binghamton area. But, you can order spiedie marinate online - or, it is easy to make. I had a link to a couple of the recipes in my post, if you care to experiment.

  3. Thank you for showing me how they set up the balloon. I've always wanted to ride in one, to float above the earth with no sense of movement. I've never seen one in real life though.

    1. I don't have the courage to get in one, after a well publicized accident in this area years ago. But, I know people who have, and they loved the rides.


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