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Decatur to host 47th Annual Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic

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One of the State’s highest-flying festivals is coming to Decatur on Memorial Day weekend.

This year, the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic welcomes close to 60 balloons. These balloons participate in different flight times and events, including tethered flights and competition flights where pilots and their crew will compete with one another. The balloons will fly in the early morning and late afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

Deb Miller is the president of the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic. She says balloonists come from far and wide to participate in the event.

“We’ll have around 60 balloons, they are participating. And the balloonists come from all over the country there. There's a good number of them that are based in Alabama. But we have balloons come from all over the country to participate in the event,” Miller said.

Miller said one of the most exciting balloon events happens in the evening.

“In the evenings, the balloons will glow. Somewhere right around dark on Saturday and Sunday, they will inflate the balloon, stand them up and actually fire them up,” Miller said. “We will turn down all the other lights in the park and fire up the balloons and so they create a glow. And that's a really special thing to see.”

The balloons, however, is not all the festival has to offer. It also features a classic car show, an antique tractor show, live entertainment and an arts and crafts fair, as well as food from local vendors. Miller said there is a lot to see, even when the balloons aren’t flying.

“There will be a classic car show. Last year we had about 400 cars that participated in the car show. The arts and crafts vendors are put on by the North Alabama craft guild. And they told me earlier there's about 70 crafters that have signed up to participate this year. So, it's a pretty big show,” Miller said. “The antique tractors will be there on Saturday morning. And this is a real always interesting for the kids... There is live music on the field those days and there's a midway that includes food vendors and merchandise vendors.”

Miller said the festival is unlike anything else in Alabama.

“If you've never seen one of these type of events, it's really truly very special. And one of the most fun things that I do is just watching all the children and how amazed they are with the balloons. It’s really fun,” Miller said.

The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic is free and open to the public. There is no admission charge or parking fee. Miller advises to arrive early because the onsite parking is limited. There are shuttles from corporate parking lots near the festival grounds patrons are welcome to take if the lot is full.

For more information, click here.

Caroline Karrh is a student intern in the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She majors in News Media and Communication Studies at The University of Alabama. She loves to read, write and report. When she is not in the newsroom, Caroline enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading romance novels and coaching soccer.

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