This year’s Balloons Over Anderson festival is slated for Nov. 5-7 at the Anderson Civic Center.
Last year’s inaugural Balloons Over Anderson event was “very successful,” said Steve Lambert, one of the festivals organizers. Lambert spoke before council at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Organizers decided to create a new hot-air balloon festival to replace Freedom Weekend Aloft, which relocated to Simpsonville, and the Great Southeast Balloon Fest
The support of the county, the city of Anderson, local businesses and residents made the event’s success possible, Lambert said.
“All of the people involved with the festival are volunteers, including the entertainment,” Lambert said.
Pilots participated in the event without expecting to receive reimbursement for their expenses, he said.
The festival is free to the public, Lambert said.
“Therefore without funding from the community, the festival would not be possible,” he said.
The cost of last year’s festival was about $25,000, Lambert said. Other balloon festivals often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on, he said.
Last year’s Balloons Over Anderson was nearly canceled due to lack of funds, but a donation from Holiday Inn allowed the festival to continue, Lambert said.
“We worked very hard to raise the money in an uncertain economy last year, but have come to realize that the economy is worse this year,” he said. “We are struggling to raise money again.”
Many of the businesses who contributed to last year’s event are unable to do so this year, Lambert said.
This year’s event is budgeted at $40,000, but so far organizers have only raised about $11,000, Lambert said.
“Fundraising is an ongoing effort, and rest assured, we will continue to do so,” he said.
Organizers hope to raise additional funds through T-shirt sales and concessions, and have applied to receive a portion of accommodations tax funding.
While Lambert feels confident the event will receive a portion of those funds, the a-tax funds are intended primarily for advertizing to bring visitors to Anderson from other areas, Lambert said.
Last year, former councilman Bob Waldrop contributed $3,000 from his district’s recreation funds to the festival, and Lambert asked the current council to donate the same amount this year.
Councilman Eddie Moore made a motion to allocate $1,000 from his district’s funds to the balloon festival. His motion carried unanimously.
For more information on Balloons Over Anderson, visit www.balloonsoveranderson.org.