David Black jumped aboard the Dairy Festival Board about the same year that hot air ballooning became a permanent feature of the Festival. Since that time, he has flown or crewed for dozens of balloon pilots from all over the United States. During the early years, David even traveled to popular balloon festivals around the country to find out what made them fun, safe and attractive to pilots. Today, the Invitational balloon event during the Hopkins County Dairy Festival incorporates the best practices and ideas, while preserving a down-home dairy country personality. Two of the highlights for balloon pilots who travel here is participating in the cow-milking contest and riding in the Dairy Festival Parade!
This year, there are 32 hot air balloons expected to participate. The FAA-certified pilots will have three opportunities to fly and two major “tether and glow” events for the public. Of course, all balloon flights are subject to weather, and scheduled flights are always “weather permitting”. And as at most balloon events, the designated “Balloon Meister” consults with his Safety Officer and a DFW weatherman at dawn to help him make pre-flight weather decisions about the morning’s scheduled flights. The Hopkins County balloon event is known for it’s attention to safety. “There are two yearly balloon events I wouldn’t miss: Albequerque and Sulphur Springs” is a compliment David has heard more than once from pilots.
Most of the balloon events will take place June 8-10, 2018 in the field behind Shannon Oaks Church, located along I-30 on East Shannon Road in Sulphur Springs. The “tether and glow” on Saturday evening June 9 will also include the State Championship Homemade Ice Cream Freeze-Off at 5:30 pm and live music. All the balloons will be participating in the glow, including two huge “shape” balloons depicting a lady bug and a Spiderman pig. The “competition” part of the Invitational event will take place early Saturday morning as a “Hare and Hound Chase”. Pilots in the air will attempt to hit a target on the ground by dropping a weighted bag, then fly on to the next target on the course.
There is a need this year for additional local crew members. If you would like to volunteer as a ground crew member for balloon flights this weekend, contact David Black at 903-439-4384.