Fourth of July drums up thoughts of cookouts, family, and fireworks and just 45 miles north, in Lexington, Virginia, the Fourth of July also means hot air balloons. This year marks the 17th annual Rotary BB&T Fourth of July Balloon Rally. The event is being held at the Virginia Military Institute Parade Ground in Lexington from July 4th through the 6th.
The Balloon Rally is hosted by Lexington’s Sunrise Rotary Club Foundation. The Club was chartered in October of 1994 and began the Balloon Rally in 1996. Its mission is to serve the community, maintain high ethical standards, and foster goodwill. The Rotary Foundation contributes $65 million a year to international scholarships and projects aimed to improve quality of life and have contributed over $400 million to making vaccines available to children all over the world. All proceeds from the Balloon Rally will go to more than a dozen local charities with a focus on those benefitting children.
As part of the festival, visitors can purchase balloon rides beginning July 4th. Morning rides will be available on the 4th, 5th, and 6th and evening rides can be purchased on the 4th and 5th. Launch times are 6:30am and 6:30pm but could vary depending on weather and wind. For those who may not be as adventurous, tethered balloon rides will also be given after 7pm on July 4th.
Entry to the rally is free and more than just balloon rides will be available. Other Fourth of July activities include “Eleanore’s MarketPlace.” The MarketPlace is a tag sale filled with quality second-hand items and is always a big draw. The market will open at 9am and run until approximately 3pm. Music and various food vendors will also be on hand along with a kids tent with pony rides, face painting, and other entertainment.
The highlight of the three day event is the balloon rally, a gathering of around 100 hot air balloons flying over the Shenandoah Valley. Visitors can also catch an evening July 4th balloon glow at dusk, sure to be a truly beautiful site. Following the glow, a fireworks display will start at dark. Patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the show.
With food, music, fireworks, and hot air balloons, the 17th Annual Rotary BB&T Fourth of July Balloon Rally is a great way to spend the holiday. Seeing the beautiful Shenandoah from high above in a balloon during sunrise or dusk sounds like an amazing experience and definitely worth the short car trip!