TUNICA, Miss. – The second Tunica Balloon Bash will be held August 9-11 as 50 hot air balloons and their pilots from across the country float into Tunica, Miss. At the Balloon Bash, attendees can take a tethered ride on a hot air balloon, view a nighttime balloon glow and watch a race of more than 50 hot air balloons.
The event is becoming one of the largest gatherings of hot air balloons and balloon pilots in the Mid-South. The Tunica Balloon Bash’s launch in 2012 built a foundation for the event to become one of the premier hot-air-ballooning events in the Southeast.
“We heard great reviews from our first Balloon Bash and have continued to have a lot of interest in the event,” said Webster Franklin, President and CEO of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our visitors enjoyed the hospitality the Tunica gaming industry showed at the properties. Attendees and balloon pilots are looking forward to coming back to Tunica to experience it again. This year, more visitors are going to get a chance to see the balloons up close, ride in a balloon and talk to the pilots.”
The Tunica Balloon Bash is a unique summer activity for families and travelers across the Mid- South.
Event activities kick off at dusk on Friday, August 9, when 10 balloons at each of the five sponsoring casino properties will participate in a balloon glow and tethered rides. Visitors who stay at one of the event’s sponsor properties only have to walk outside to enjoy views of the hot air balloons or take a tethered ride.
Casino properties sponsoring the event are Fitz Casino and Hotel Tunica, Gold Strike Casino Resort, Hollywood Casino Tunica, Horseshoe Hotel and Casino Tunica, and Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall Tunica. Balloon glows are often the most popular events at balloon festivals, and visitors are invited to view the glowing orange-tinted balloons and experience their size and beauty as the sun sets over Tunica.
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet hot-air-balloon pilots and go up between 40 and 50 feet in the air while the balloon is tethered and secured to the ground. For early risers, the Tunica Balloon Bash will feature hot-air-balloon races in which more than 50 balloon pilots will compete for $12,000 in cash and prizes. Balloon pilots will meet Saturday and Sunday mornings to receive a task that will be determined the day of the event. For example, the balloonists may be challenged to participate in a race called “hare and hound.”
In this challenge, all balloons (“hounds”) launch at the same time and attempt to drop a marker as close as possible to a fabric X, which is placed minutes earlier by the leading balloon (“hare”). The competing hot air balloons will be visible in the Tunica resorts area as the sun comes up.
Visitors can participate in the following schedule of events:
• Friday, August 9 o 7-9 p.m. – Tethered hot air balloon rides at the Fitz, Gold Strike, Hollywood, Horseshoe and Sam’s Town casinos o 8:30-9:30 p.m. – At dusk, hot air balloon glows at the same locations
• Saturday, August 10 o 7-9 a.m. – 50 hot air balloons fly over Tunica as the pilots compete for cash prizes from 6-8 p.m. – Hot air balloons will fill the Tunica sky again during a hot air balloon fun flight at 7-9 p.m. – Tethered rides will be offered at the Fitz, Hollywood and Sam’s Town casinos from 8-9:30 p.m.
– At dusk, hot air balloon glows at the same locations
• Sunday, August 11 o 7-9 a.m. – Watch the final day of competition between the 50 hot air balloon pilots as their balloons fly over Tunica.
“While the windy weather prevented us from holding a race last year, we planned the 2013 Balloon Bash for August because of the likelihood of better wind conditions,” said Franklin. “Most of the pilots who visited in 2012 are returning this year to give the competition another try.” Hot air balloons can fly at a maximum wind speed of 10 miles per hour. The decision of whether the hot air balloons will fly at the competition, for tethered rides or for balloon glows will be made day-of by Tunica Balloon Bash organizer Mark Bowie.
For more information on the Tunica Balloon Bash and for the latest updates, follow the Tunica CVB online at TunicaTravel.com, on Facebook (facebook.com/TunicaMS) and on Twitter (twitter.com/TunicaMS).