DANDRIDGE — The Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Fest is excited to announce its third annual event.
“We had such an amazing turnout of attendees last year. We were completely blown away by the support of our local community and those who traveled from near and far,” said festival director Sarah Mills. “We couldn’t wait to begin plans again for this year.”
The Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Fest will be held Oct. 22-23, from 2-8 p.m. daily. Jefferson County is branded “the Lakeside of the Smokies” because of its breathtaking proximity to Douglas and Cherokee lakes and its central location in the Great Smoky Mountains.
“We chose the third weekend in October because the season coincides perfectly with the changing fall leaves,” Mills said.
The festival is hosted on the Shrader Family Farm at 295 W. Dumplin Valley Road, Dandridge. The grounds are easily accessible off Interstate 40 using Exit 417. The family farm is situated between Jefferson County High School and the Patriot Academy.
Gates will open at 1 p.m. both days and balloons typically begin to inflate around 4 p.m. Each evening, the festival will conclude with a “Balloon Glow Finale.” Attendees will enjoy a large food truck court, a kids’ fair, balloon glow, live music and entertainment performed by local artists, over 50 local craft and artisan vendors, the Nine Lakes Wine Garden, the Knoxville Brewery Beer Tasting Garden, the Smoky Mountain Antique Tractor show, and of course, hot air ballooning activities.
All untethered balloon rides are now sold out, but tethered rides are available for $20 cash purchase on-site on a first-come, first-served basis.
Attendees can pre-purchase general admission “one-day-only” or “two-day” tickets on the festival’s website, www.LOTSBalloonFest.com/buy-tickets. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate. Other ticketed items include the Nine Lakes Wine Garden, The Beer Garden, festival merchandise, as well as hot air balloon rides. Parking is free and located on the event site. Shuttle rides will be provided to those needing assistance.
New to the festival line up this year is the Morning Ascension Mimosa & Breakfast. On Saturday and Sunday mornings of the event, from 7-10 a.m., guests can enjoy a scenic view like no other. This $30 ticket includes a catered breakfast, mimosas with local Tennessee sparkling wine, tenting seating, early access to the balloon field for pilot Q&A, and optimal balloon flight viewing. Attendees can also upgrade their admission passes for an “Elevated Experience” VIP ticket. This $120 experience has premium balloon activity viewing, catered farm to table fare, and wine tastings from some of the Nine Lakes Wine Region’s most prestigious wineries.
“Balloon activities are extremely weather dependent, and timing of flights can vary with shifting winds and weather patterns,” said the festival’s Balloon Meister, Scott Griswold.
“We are all hoping for calm winds and blue skies, but safety is always the most important part of flying.”
Weather updates and the percentage likelihood of balloon activity will be posted regularly on the festival’s Twitter: @LOTSBalloonFest, other social media pages, via announcements from the stage, and at the event’s information tent.
The festival is the main fundraising event of the charitable organization, Jefferson County Festival Charities (JCFC). The charity’s mission statement is to “promote community, camaraderie, and friendship throughout Jefferson County and greater Appalachia, to educate participants about Jefferson County agriculture, and to educate participants about the sport of hot air ballooning.”
For more information about the Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Fest, visit their website: www.lotsballoonfest.com/.