More than 20 balloons will launch during the inaugural Southwest Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival, set for Friday and Saturday at Chennault International Airport, 3650 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave.

“These guys are professionals,” Brandon Beard, festival organizer, said. “They do this all around the country. We gather them and get everybody here for the festival.”

The Faith and Family Night is 5-11 p.m. Friday. Two stages will feature dance teams, local church worship teams and Christian recording artists Lacy Storm and Jeremy Camp. No alcohol will be served that evening.

“(It’s) not a place to listen to a lot of preaching or anything, but built for the community of churches,” Beard said.

The gates for Saturday’s event, Louisiana Saturday Night, open at noon. It will feature live music from regional favorites like The Molly Ringwalds, Louisiana Express and Gimmie the Keys. Alcohol vendors will be present.

Both nights will feature an opening ceremony with balloons launching, fireworks display, carnival rides, a big screen presentation of the Disney movie “Up” and the “balloon glow.” Beard said the balloon glow is “kind of like a laser light show.”

“All of the balloons will light up, pull the flyers and rise,” he said.

Tethered balloon rides are $20 for adults and $15 for children. Beard said riders can expect to rise “25-50 feet, depending on the wind.”

Tickets are $20 each at the gate or $30 for a weekend pass. Online tickets are $15 for a day pass or $25 for a weekend pass.


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