Balloon Fest Named 2021 Event of the Year in Alabama
Wolf Bay is Presenting Sponsor, Tara McMeans is Poster Winner
The Alabama Department of Tourism recognized the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival sponsored by the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce as its Event of the Year at the 2021 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Gulf State Park Lodge earlier this month.
Rachel Spear, Event Director, and Tommy Rachel, Balloon Pilot and Event Founder, accepted the award. “Over the past 7 years of working with the South Baldwin Chamber events team, I have seen the festival transform into what it is today. Nothing in my career has been more satisfying than to see the smiles on the faces of visitors as they watch the hot air balloons inflate all around them,” Spear said.
This year, the festival is partnering with Wolf Bay Restaurants as presenting sponsor. Wolf Bay Restaurants have been a staple of the South Baldwin community since 1973 and a regular fixture at the Hot Air Balloon Festival over the years, catering to our VIP guests and serving fried shrimp from their food truck to festival goers.
The winner of the 2022 Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival poster is talented artist Tara McMeans from Gulf Shores. Tara owns and operates Design Print Promote and is a long-time partner of the South Baldwin Chamber and the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival (GCHABF). His artwork has been chosen several times in previous years to be the official design for the event. Its pop-art inspired poster design features bright colors and identifiable graphics that immediately grab your attention and will make a great piece of wearable art.
The 18th annual three-day Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival is on the schedule May 12-14. The festival kicks off Thursday evening, May 12, from 5-9 p.m. with live entertainment, vendors, and a balloon glow (wind and weather permitting). The excitement continues on Friday May 13 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday May 14 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Over 50 hot air balloons and pilots will join us in Foley for a weekend of magical fun.
This family event offers activities for everyone. Entrance to the festival is free and some activities are available at an additional cost. Guests can take advantage of many amenities at OWA Parks & Resort; including diverse restaurants, unique retail shopping choices, a variety of entertainment attractions and, of course, The Park at OWA – its theme park with over 20 rides and attractions to experience. Traditional festival activities will also be featured throughout the property over the weekend with children’s activities, artesian and food vendors, live music and (wind and weather permitting) horse rides. tethered balloon, balloon glows and balloons in flight! The 2021 event has seen significant growth with the festival venue moving to OWA. The GCHABF committee is looking forward to an even bigger and better festival in 2022. More info: gulfcoastballoonfestival.com or visitowa.com. Pictured: (above) Tommy Rachel, Donna Watts, Rachel Spear, Candice Martinez, Kylee Raulerson and Mayor Ralph Hellmich; (Below) Tara McMeans.