The National Balloon Classic has been on my Iowa bucket list almost since I moved here. But until this year, I never made it down to Indianola, Iowa for the annual festival. A few weeks ago, as I was heading out of town for a few days, I happened to turn a corner and find the sky speckled with colorful balloons mid-test flight, and I was practically giddy.
For those who might not be aware, hot air ballooning is a fickle sport that requires near-perfect weather, meaning that it wasn’t until my second attempt that I actually got to see them take aloft. After grabbing a coffee and a picnic blanket, I headed to the Balloon Fields for a 6:30 a.m. flight.
In the mornings during the Classic, the balloon pilots participate in a competition where they each try to drop their weighted bags into designated targets. What does that mean for spectators? Well, for one, that you get to watch the balloons swoop in close to try to get the best aim at the target. But my personal favorite part was watching the balloons sprout up from the middle of corn fields and parking lots and slowly float closer and closer.
If you’ve never been to the National Balloon Classic, definitely put it on your to-do list for next summer. You can also attend in the evenings for $5 to see the balloons glow as the sun sets.
National Balloon Classic Fields, 15335 Jewell Street (East of Indianola)