Being new to an area always means there is something to do. Exploration has become our regular past time here in Raleigh. Since it was Memorial Day weekend and we didn’t want to hit the road and battle the traffic, I went online searching for something for us to do. I came across the WRAL Freedom Balloon Festival here in Fuquay-Varina in its 2nd year. Stay up-to-date on the latest information for the 2017 festival here.
I’m not gonna lie. At first when I saw the entry before clicking on the link, I was thinking of regular balloons you have at a kids birthday party. Yes…I know. Who would have a festival just for balloons? But hey, you never know and it turns out, it was hot air balloons! After reading about the festival, I realized it was a must do for us that weekend. The festival was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and they were anticipating over 400,000 attendees during the festival. I had to look twice because I never thought it was something that would be that popular.
With no parking around the festival grounds, shuttle buses were offered to transport attendees to and from the site. Luckily, we live only 1 mile from where the shuttle bus area was located so that 1 mile from our apartment complex so we grabbed out chairs and took the walk. Now that we are in the throws of buying a house, this is a really nice break of not having to think about all that needs to be done. We get to enjoy a lazy Saturday and not think about anything and have some fun!
Once we arrived at the festival grounds, there was a big colorful balloon laying on the ground and it immediately got me excited and I couldn’t wait. It was a small festival, but it was so full of life and community that it felt big!
Along the perimeter of the grounds were various vendors, food trucks, a wine and beer garden, an area that was a tribute to the fallen soldiers, a stage with the band, and of course, the hot air balloons themselves!
I just loved this pink tuck in honor of breast cancer from K.B. Johnson Oil and Gas!
We went around looking and speaking to the various vendors and I made a promise to myself that I would not buy anything! That is a huge ordeal for me because at a festival it is almost impossible for me to not buy anything-it’s usually jewelry! Festivals are difficult for me too because there are so many yummy food choices and I can’t make up my mind. If I could, I would have one of everything, but that can’t happen. I decided on boring ‘ole pizza and E got BBQ chicken wings.
Why is it that you only see these HUGE turkey legs at a festival?
The beer and wine garden gave us a chance to check out the local breweries and wineries!
One of the brewing companies in the beer and wine garden was the Fainting Goat Brewing Company. I had to take a picture of this because I thought to myself, “Where am I going to see a goat fainting?” But, the beer was good and I am not a beer drinker!
We decided to eat in the area dedicated to fallen soldiers and sit under the shade of a large tree.
As a fundraiser, you could purchase flags in honor of a fallen soldier at the Field of Flags. E is a retired Army Sergeant and his unit was one of the first to go when the Iraqi war began. In honor of 2 of the soldiers that didn’t come back with them, he placed the flags in the ground and said a prayer. I can’t even imagine what that must be like and how it must be to deal with knowing those who you were with didn’t come back home with you.
I’m honored to be with him and am so thankful to all the men and women who serve to keep me-all of us-safe!
Time to get the balloons ready for take off!
If you live in Raleigh or happen to be in the Raleigh area during Memorial Day weekend next year, I highly recommend the WRAL Freedom Balloon Festival. It’s fun and family friendly! To learn more about the festival, click here.
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