Taking Flight…

Balloon Roundup successful despite windy weather


A hot air balloon festival filled with entertainment and excitement was set to lift off on a sunny weekend.

The South Plains Balloon Roundup was held Sept. 12 – Sept. 13 at Buffalo Springs Lake in Lubbock.

The event included many attractions such as craft and food vendors, musical performances, a balloon glow show, and, of course, the actual balloon flight.

On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, owners of hot air balloons set up on the lake-side campground, inflated their balloons, and prepared to lift off. Pilots pulled their aircrafts on trailers to an empty field next to Buffalo Lake. However, because of high winds on Saturday morning, only a few balloons got the chance to take flight. On Sunday morning, balloon pilots were not permitted to lift off of the ground, as it would have called for a very hazardous landing to the aircraft as well as the passengers.  However, one balloon owned by Glen Campbell of Lorenzo, was inflated near the campgrounds on Sunday morning. Campbell was very concerned about the hazard of the high wind speeds. However, he didn’t want to leave festival attendees without a close-up view of a hot air balloon.

“We like to have the winds stay at about 5 miles-an-hour,” Campbell explained. “We were expecting winds to be about 10 to 15, and then at about 8 a.m., they were forecasting about 20 miles-an-hour, which is too windy for us. We like to have calm winds. There is damage that comes with high winds. When you land with high winds, the balloon will drag. Nobody wants to take that chance.”

Campbell has been piloting hot air balloons for about five years. He had been a part of a rally for hot air balloons on the South Plains that lasted for about 10 years. Campbell is now a part of a newly put together rally of balloons, which he says is constantly growing with new pilots, along with events where pilots can show off their balloons.

Rebecca Gonzales has been attending various festivals at Buffalo Springs Lake for many years. She owns a lake house in the small village that surrounds the lake, so she tries to enjoy every event that happens at the lake.

“In 2013, there were quite a bit of balloons out,” Gonzales said. “They had a lot of them flying around. We come out here every year. But last year got rained out. And the lake is very beautiful, especially knowing that we’re in West Texas.”

Paige Lollar, from Tokio, along with many other visitors, took advantage of the campgrounds where the festival was held and stayed overnight to enjoy the sunrise and the early morning balloon flight.

“We’re camping out for the whole weekend,” Lollar said. “It’s a beautiful day. Seventy-five degrees. You couldn’t ask for anything better during this time of year. It’s a very nice environment.”

The energy of the festival was not hurt by the balloon flight cancellations. On Saturday evening, the community got to enjoy a variety of vendors that were set up around the campground. The vendors in the area sold a range of items such as dog clothes, shaved ice, and even Mary Kay products.

Among the many vendors stood the H9 Hydrogen Structured Water distributor, Hollie Smith, from Lubbock. Smith says that drinking one bottle of H9 water is six times more hydrating than a regular bottle of water and is infused with minerals and enzymes that you wouldn’t typically find in your regular bottle of water.

“It’s the same water that’s inside the cells of your body,” Smith says. “When you drink it, your body just absorbs it, as opposed to regular water, which has to be converted into the water that your body uses. One bottle of H9 is equal to six bottles of regular water.”

Smith says the discovery of the water was pretty recent.

“Right now, the only way you can find it is if you know a distributor,” she explained.

They hope that someday, the water will hit major distributors such as Target and Wal-Mart. Smith says the only thing the water needs is an explanation and further marketing.

When the vendors start putting up their tents, festival attendees start getting ready for the balloon glow, which happened on Saturday night. When the sun went down, balloon pilots used the burners in the balloons, along with decorative lights, to light up their balloons for nighttime viewing. This was a beautiful sight for the people who were camping out at the lake.

Debbie Orsak came from Midland to attend the festival. She says her favorite event at the festival was the balloon glow.

“The glow was very fun,” Orsak said. “There were not that many balloons, because of the wind, but it was very beautiful to watch. There was a very big balloon that was from the nursery rhyme, ‘The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.’” The balloon was shaped like the house made out of a shoe from the nursery rhyme.

Although the pilots had a hard time trying to get the balloons to lift off, the festive energy still remained throughout the weekend.

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