The catch phrase for this weekend will be “Up, Up and Away” as balloonists from across the region take advantage of the Wind River Valley’s calm weather for the annual Riverton Rendezvous and Balloon Rally.
Fourteen balloonists from as far away as California, Utah and even Canada are set to take part in the 39th annual rally, started in 1981 as an event to celebrate Riverton’s Diamond Jubilee.
Balloon flights can be tricky in Wyoming because of the state’s windy conditions, but Riverton, inside the Wind River Valley, sees better flying conditions than most areas, said Eric Carr, chairman of the Riverton Rendezvous and Balloon Rally Committee.
“We have exceptional weather for ballooning in the mornings here,” he said. “We can get some wind, but by and large, this region of the state is one of the least windiest parts of the state.”
Events scheduled for the weekend include balloon flights Saturday and Sunday, along with live music, a radio controlled airplane demonstration, a fireworks display and a “balloon glow,” a nighttime event when balloons are inflated so the flames that heat the balloons illuminate their designs.
All of the balloons appearing in Riverton are sponsored by local businesses and many flights on Saturday and Sunday will be with representatives of the businesses, Carr said.
However, flights for the general public are also available. Tickets can be purchased by calling Riverton City Hall at (307) 856-2227.
Riverton even has two of its own balloons, “Cloud Kisser II” and “Cloud Kisser III” that will be present for the event. The two balloons visit various ballooning events to promote the Riverton rally.
A balloon flight can be a unique experience, Carr said.
“You just kind of let go,” he said. “To just get up in the air and it is so quiet you can hear everything. There’s no motor, no propeller, you’re just up in the air floating around. So it’s a really, really unique sensation.”
Events kick off Friday with a barbecue for the balloonists featuring keynote speaker Cheri White, a Texas pilot who has won a number of awards form various ballooning organizations.
The dinner will be followed by the Rocky Mountain Rebels Car and Bike “Friday Night Cruise,” a parade through downtown Riverton.
Flights begin Saturday morning when the balloons take off from Central Wyoming College at 6 a.m., followed by tethered balloon rides at 7 a.m.
The balloon glow will be held at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a fireworks show at 10 p.m.
The balloons will take to the air again at 6 a.m. Sunday.
For more information on the rally, visit its website at RivertonRendezvous.com or its page on Facebook.