Great Wellsville Balloon Rally

Great Wellsville Balloon Rally
The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally is an annual hot air balloon festival taking place in the town of Wellsville, New York, United States. Held on the third weekend of July, it is the largest annual event in the Wellsville area, attracting balloonists and tourists from all over the country.

Before there was a hot air balloon festival, the only aviation-related activity in Wellsville was an annual Fly-In Breakfast organized by the Wellsville Aviation Club for pilots from Western New York and Northwest Pennsylvania. The organizers would clear one of the hangers at the airport, put up folding tables and serve a hearty meal of sausage, eggs, pancakes and other breakfast staples. Pilots would fly in to enjoy delicious breakfast food and swap stories with their fellow aviators.

Wellsville’s annual air show was inspired by the 1975 film The Great Waldo Pepper about a WWI veteran pilot who missed the opportunity to fly in combat. The organizers liked the name of the movie and decided to call the event The Great Wellsville Air Show. The first event was held in 1976. It was organized by a group of local volunteers and featured a handful of balloonists from different backgrounds. The show was a success so it was decided to make it an annual event. At some point it was renamed the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally.

The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally is held on the third full weekend of July. Thousands of people come to Wellsville to see spectacular mass balloon launches when several dozen hot air balloons of different colors take off from Island Park and gracefully float on the air. There are morning and evening launches.

Other highlights of the festival include the annual Great Wellsville Balloon Rally Parade that travels along the town’s main street on Saturday morning, live music performances, fireworks display at Island Park, a game trailer and bouncy houses for children, and more. There are merchandise vendors and food vendors on site. The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally also offers balloon rides that can be purchased throughout the event and are available both in the morning and in the evening.

Great Wellsville Balloon Rally

Photo: Joseph Tecza




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