BY JACK VANCHIERE [email protected]


The first Southwest Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival is set for this spring. This two-day event will be held at the Chennault International Airport.

 

The first Southwest Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival is set for 3-11 p.m. July 19-20 at Chennault International Airport, 3650 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave.

Along with hot air balloons, the two-day festival will feature live music, food and fireworks. The first day will be alcohol-free, while the second will include a beer tasting and barbecue event.

“We are super, super pumped to bring this to the Lake Charles area,” said festival organizer Brandon Beard. “Though they were born in the 1700s, we will still pull over and check out the hot air balloons.”

Beard said the first evening will highlight faith and family, and organizers will partner with area churches.

“We’re going to bring in a national artist, which we can’t announce yet … but it’s going to be somebody really, really good,” he said. “It’s really amazing to see the blankets and the kids and the families all out there together being a part of an event like this.”

The festival will happen in the middle of Southwest Louisiana’s most recent surge of growth. It is powered by new industry in the area, including Chennault.

Mayor Nic Hunter agreed, saying Southwest Louisiana prides itself on offering family-friendly events.

“The economic boom that we’ve had here in recent years has been unprecedented,” he said. “And events like (this) are our quality of life response.”

Kevin Melton, Chennault executive director, says he’s excited to educate young people about the history of aviation.

“Quite frankly, balloon flights were how man started to fly … it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring that educational aspect to the community and allow Chennault to support that capability,” he said.

Tickets start at $15 each, and entry is free for those 14 and under. Packages include beer sampling packs, weekend deals and VIP tickets.

Free tickets, available at select sponsor locations in the area, will be announced closer to the scheduled date.