The Big Country Balloon Fest has become an Abilene tradition! Filled with entertainment, food, balloon flights, crafts and more, our festival is the perfect destination for families in the area. We see more than 25,000 people attend the event, which benefits various youth programs. These programs include college scholarships, Return to Sender, Camp Quality (a camp for young cancer patients), and more.
The Optimist Club Unlimited of Abilene is a nonprofit organization comprised of individuals in the community that encourage our youth to be optimistic.
Johnny Lewis, our first Balloonmeister, is a local pilot and volunteer who helped use his knowledge of ballooning to get us started. He built his first hot air balloon as a child and has since been featured on television shows and movies both nationally and internationally. He is well respected in the ballooning community for his knowledge of the sport.
From the third year to present, Glen Moyer has been the Balloonmeister for the event. Although he used to organize the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Mr. Moyer jumped at the chance to help local youth and support our programming. We are honored to have such a prestigious figure at the helm of our event. Mr. Moyer is the editor of the Balloon Federation of America publications, including the Ballooning Magazine and the Skylines FBA publication for hot air balloon pilots.
Many pilots attend our fest on their way to the Albuquerque Fiesta the following weekend. We have had several “special shape” balloons in the past, including “Let’s Quack,” “Blue Azul,” “Energizer Hot Air Balloon” (the world’s largest hot air balloon), “Humpty Dumpty,” “Noah’s Ark” and more.
In 2006, we incorporated a kite show with the Austin End of the Line Kite Team. This has been an exciting addition to our festival.
Read more about this year’s pilots here!
The balloon festival began in 1994 as the annual fundraiser for the Abilene Unlimited Optimist Club. The first year there was a total of nine balloons, and since then, the event has grown exponentially!
The event has evolved over the years to much more than just the hot air balloon show. There is a children’s area where games are set up, local entertainment and bands brought in, air castles, a silent auction, arts and crafts, and lots and lots of food! One of the biggest draws is the balloon “glow” on Friday and Saturday night of the festival. If you’ve never seen a balloon glow, you won’t want to miss it. Although donations are appreciated, there is no admission fee because we want all families to be able to join us for this fun-filled night of entertainment.
This event has been featured on not only local news media, but also on CNN and The Weather Channel as well as in Austin and Dallas area newspapers, Texas travel magazines, the Electric Co-op Magazine, AAA and Southern Living Magazine.