Jeff Van Patten Star Herald
“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty back together.” – Mother hen.
On Wednesday, it only took a fan and flames to get Humpty Dumpty to his feet again during the Old West Balloon Fest Night Glow at the WNCC.
Since 2015, the Humpty Dumpty Balloon – owned by Rich Lawhorn – has been one of the most popular balloons attracting families to the Old West Balloon Fest.
“When Colleen (Johnson) revived this in 2015, she called me and asked if I would bring Humpty to help revive this. So, we came and helped her start again,” said Lawhorn: “That’s one of the reasons he’s so popular. He was one of the original forms here.”
Humpty only missed a few appearances at the hot air balloon festival, he said.
“One year it was closed due to COVID. Last year I was flying balloons in Jackson Hole. I couldn’t leave. I was there with a transport company and I couldn’t walk away to come and do this,” he said.
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Lawhorn said Humpty Dumpty has been all over the world, traveling to 17 countries.
“It went to Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, China. We’ve been to Mexico, Brazil, Canada, the United States and we’ve been to Africa. So it kinda goes around,” he said.
Humpty doesn’t capture the imagination in quite the same way in some of the countries Lawhorn has taken him to.
“In some countries they look at it and they’re really confused because they don’t know what it is. In China, they had no idea what he was doing. He was just a big egg. In any country that has anything to do with Britain – where their stories were originally written – they know him. He is known there and he is appreciated like America,” he said.
Humpty Dumpty’s origins go back to a previous owner, Lawhorn said. Early owners were trying to figure out how to get their balloons into events.
“Somebody suggested they get a special shape,” he said. “They were at a cocktail party in Plano, Texas with a hot air balloon club talking about what they could do. He’s a free area, so they decided they would (do Humpty Dumpty). They went see different balloon makers and asked them to design a Humpty Dumpty balloon.
Humpty proved popular almost immediately, but previous owners decided to go in a different direction, Lawhorn said.
“They went to an event in Amarillo, Texas, and the Purple People Eater was voted the most popular of the crowd, which shocked them. They decided to build another form,” he said.
The original owners then decided to find a new owner for Humpty Dumpty.
Lawhorn said he was in hot air balloon competitions when he decided to buy Humpty.
“By doing all these events, I knew the guys with the shapes were getting paid for it,” he said. “I was interested in shapes, so I had spoken to this couple about what it takes to get into shapes and their success.”
So, Lawhorn decided to approach the previous owners to sell it to him.
“They interviewed people to adopt him. They knew I was really kid-friendly, so I had the opportunity to buy it. That was in 1996. I’ve been riding it ever since,” he said.
The Old West Balloon Fest continues with a mass ascension on Friday August 12 and Saturday August 13. Both take place from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
There will also be a Craft Fair on Center Street in Mitchell on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., followed by a final Night Glow that evening from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Grasslands at Five Rocks. Visit oldwestballoonfest.com.
PHOTOS: Old West Night Glow Hot Air Balloon Festival 2022