The Great Texas Balloon Race – July 30th through August 1st will bring the return of the Great Texas Balloon Race (GTBR) to the East Texas Regional Airport and marks 32 years of hot–air balloon racing in Longview. Packed with events from dawn to dusk, the GTBR is a weekend festival with something for everyone.
Events like sport and special shapes balloon competitions and the now famous “Balloon Glow” which was the brainchild of original race organizer, Dr. Bill Bussey in 1981 are the cornerstones of the weekend. But when the balloons aren’t in the air, exciting aircraft flights and static exhibits, skydivers, great musical entertainment, an expansive “Kids Land” and fabulous food and craft vendors round out the event for the whole family.
This year’s racing gets underway at 6:30am on Friday with the Sport and Special Shape Balloon Competition over Longview. At 4pm the gates open at the East Texas Regional Airport for Kid’s Land, arts and crafts vendors, food and drinks. Friday’s activities include the “Opening Ceremonies” and Sport and Special Stapes Balloon Glow” at around 8:15pm.
Saturday starts with “Sport and Special Shape Controlled Navigational Trajectory Event”, better known as “The Key Grab”. The “Balloon Glow is again at 8:15 Saturday.
The race wraps up on Sunday at 6:30am with the final “key grab” competition and the “Pilot’s Award Presentation” at 9:30am.
Admission prices are $15 for Friday, $15 for Saturday and Sunday is free. Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Active military members are free with military ID.
Known as the longest running hot-air balloon event in Texas, The Great Texas Balloon Race began in 1978. From its original venue at Longview Mall, the race moved to the former Stroh’s Brewery site (1985-1986) and then to its current home at the East Texas Regional Airport.