This was our first time to the 2nd Annual Create Canon City Balloon Classic in Canon City Colorado. Held on May 22-24 in beautiful Canon City, and let me just say, it was an incredible experience. Our first performance was on the 22nd of May, where we did our Dare to Dream program. We hit the ground running with 6 shows on Friday at Washington Elementary, Freemont Elementary and Core Knowledge Elementary. 1200 students, lots of new kite fliers and amazing feedback. Later that night we went to the field house at The Winery and did a performance for all of the VIP members at the event. In total we flew for 1400 people throughout the day.

Saturday at sunrise we could see the balloons taking off and we were mesmerized. We arrived at The Winery where the event was being held and we went down to the field to start flying kites. We were flying in the field right next to the Holy Cross Abbey and the Dare To Dream Stack really looked amazing with such a great backdrop. By the afternoon it was raining, storming and hailing. However, a little bad weather was not going to stop us. We just moved into the field house and continued our kite flying indoors and had just as much fun. Lots of the crews had returned from the morning hot air balloon launch and came in to learn to fly indoors. A little different then the flying they normally do! We were really happy to hear that our friend and tour guide had gotten to go up in a balloon that morning. It was one of the things on her before 30 bucket list! Stephanie was so helpful to us when she took us to all the schools, and helped out with sound and even learned to fly indoors with us! We were really surprised to hear that the balloon pilots were asking whether we would like to go up for a ride the next morning!

The next day we got up at 5:00 AM in the morning. I am not much of an early bird. But going on a hot air balloon was a once in a life time experience for me so it was worth getting up extra early. We arrived at the field at about 5:45 AM. We met a professional hot air balloonist named Lu Toxvard who agreed to take us up in his hot air balloon. We got the experience of standing inside the balloon when they were filling up the cool air and it was an incredible experience, but it was really cold. We took off at about 6:17 AM and I am not normally afraid of heights but when we first took off and the basket started to shake I have to admit, I got nervous. However, the nerves only lasted for a second as the basket steadied and we could see the entire town of Canon City. It was an incredible experience. I felt like we were floating on a cloud. Amy even took out a small Patrick Tan I Flite glider kite and began to fly it when we were about 1500 feet altitude. You don’t really know how small you are until you go up in a hot air balloon. We flew about 2 miles west of The Winery and landed at 8:00 AM in a big grassy field. We helped pack up the balloon and went back since we had an indoor show scheduled.

9:00 AM was kite flying time and we started at the field house where we did an hour long indoor show where a bunch of people showed up including Pilot Lu and Tammy Toxvard, and all the wonderful crew of the Pepsi Won Balloon that made it possible for us to take that balloon ride. It truly takes a team to work together, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to meet all such a wonderful group of people. We had a great time teaching them to fly indoors and sharing stories. We will forever consider them all flying family!

The weather was great and the winds were soft so I was able to do all my performances outdoors on the field with my six stack. Breaks were taken for Skydivers and over 200 rockets and the entire festival was alive and going strong. There was lots to do and see, and people came from all over Colorado. We were very happy to see Julie and Doug Hutchison from the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation! Robin Allen McKracken and his wife Liana came by for a bit as well to visit. And we truly enjoyed meeting and spending time with Roger Kenkel (Show Stopper Kites) and his family.

At 5:00 PM we went back to the hotel and started getting ready to go back home. But that did not mean that the Balloon Festival was over just yet. At 8:00 PM we went back out to the Holy Cross Abbey and Winery and we got to see the hot air balloons glow in the dark. The balloonists even allowed the public, myself included to set off the fire burners. Boy was it loud but it was fun. Sometimes all the balloonists would set off there fire burners at once making all of the hot air balloons glow in the dark at one time. It was a once in a lifetime experience to a once in a life time trip.

I would like to thank the Bill Freda and the entire board of directors that put the event together. It was incredible working with all of you! We are very excited that they have already invited us back next year! We would also like to thank Barbi Hann who we met at Lincoln City this last year. Barbi has been very encouraging and supportive to us.

To all the kind people that spent so much of their time and efforts to make our trip so memorable, we are so thankful to you and we are looking forward to seeing you next year! Who knows…? Maybe there will be a Dare to Dream Balloon someday!

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