Southwest Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival details released

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Pat Harwell knows hot air balloons. In fact, he holds a world record for flying a balloon the farthest distance without a basket.

The north Louisiana native will be overseeing balloon operations at the Southwest Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival in July. He says he is eager to bring his passion to Chennault International Airport and Lake Charles.

“This is another opportunity for us,” Harwell said. “Ballooning is about kids and families. This gives us another opportunity to share our passion with the kids and families.”

Brandon Beard is the organizer of this event and says there is so much more to expect than just hot air balloons.

“You’re going to have craft vendors, food vendors. You’re going to have national artists on Friday night taking the stage. We’re going to announce that pretty shortly, then we’re going to have the same thing, another national artist Saturday night,” Beard said. “Just imagine a big giant festival with something for everyone. It’s just going to be a fun time.”

Kevin Melton, executive director of Chennault International Airport, says he hopes everyone can come out to see a colorful collection of high flying balloons.

“The airport is run by tax dollars. It’s your airport,” Melton said. “It has not been done in Lake Charles, to my knowledge, and it certainly has not been done at Chennault Airport.”

Harwell says this is just the beginning of what promises to be a popular festival.

“Everything indicates that it’ll grow,” Harwell said. “It’ll get bigger and bigger. In my mind, it’ll be great for the community. It’ll give the community the chance to come out, do something together. They’ll enjoy it. It’s clean, you’re in a protected area, and it’s just beautiful to watch the balloons.”

In the event that the festival gets rained out, those who purchased tickets will be able to use those tickets the following year.

General admission will be $15. Kids 14 and under will be free.

For more information on the festival, click HERE.