The Great War Memorial Balloon Race is back again this weekend. This will be the second year for the race, and maybe it will be a bit more organized than last year. If you remember, last year the weather didn’t cooperate much, and the balloons moved to Maumelle on the actual race day. Hopefully, their Facebook page will keep everyone up-to-date this year about changes like that.
This race is a 3-Day Hot Air Balloon Festival with over 20 Hot Air Balloons, entertainment, vendors and more. There will be balloon glow every night starting at around dusk and tethered balloon rides. Most of the balloon related events start at 5:30, thought food vendors and other entertainment starts around 10 a.m. Saturday is the big competition day.
One big difference this year is that there is a fee to enter the festival. Last year it was free. Admission fees are either $5 per carload each day or $5 per person for the three day event. You’ll also be required to pay $5 for parking around War Memorial and food and beverage purchases will require tickets. The tethered balloon rides are cheaper this year, at $20/person.
Is it worth the $5 admission? Maybe. I am glad they have a $5 per carload admission, so families can come enjoy the balloons for a reasonable price. When I went last year, I noticed many families walked through and looked at the balloon glow with their kids and left. For a family, I’m not sure it would be worth the price of 3-day admission. They have added a few things, so we’ll see what happens.
The Great War Memorial Balloon Race is Fri. 4-10 p.m., Sat. 6:30 a.m.- 10 p.m., and Sun. 6:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. The best time to see the balloons is around dusk.