Our Public Information volunteers field thousands of questions during the 9-day National Balloon Classic. Following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the event.
WHEN IS THE NATIONAL BALLOON CLASSIC?
Morning Flights launch at 6:30 a.m. and evening flights launch at 6:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Gates close after the morning flight, around 9:00 a.m. and do not reopen until 4:00 p.m.
With the exception of Dawn Patrol on each Saturday morning during the event, there are no scheduled activities or entertainment during morning flights. A limited number of food vendors serve breakfast and coffee. Guests are invited to self-park, bring their own lawn chairs/blanket, (bring a flashlight for Dawn Patrol) and enjoy some of the best competitive flying you’ll ever witness at a hot air balloon event!
HOW DO I GET TO THE NATIONAL BALLOON CLASSIC?
The National Balloon Classic takes place at the National Balloon Classic Memorial Balloon Field, which is located east of Indianola on Hwy 92. From the intersection of Hwy 69 and Hwy 92, go east two miles and follow balloon traffic signs. Caution: The physical address is 15335 Jewell Street, Indianola, Iowa. Avoid GPS directions that include 150th Avenue, which is closed during the event. The best way to avoid heavy traffic is to take a route that includes arriving on Hwy 92 from the East.
For detailed directions check out our directions page.
HOW EARLY SHOULD I ARRIVE AT THE BALLOON FIELD?
MORNING: With the exception of Dawn Patrol, morning traffic is typically light with self-parking. For Dawn Patrol, arrive at 5:00 a.m. when gates open (bring a flashlight, the field is dark) Dawn Patrol is extremely punctual (weather permitting) with a tight flying window. If you arrive even minutes late, you may miss it. For regular morning flights, arriving 30 minutes early should be sufficient.
EVENING: Evening crowds can be quite large; arriving early is highly advisable. For weekend events and Nite Glow Extravaganza, plan to arrive by 4:30 p.m. if possible. Evening gates open at 4:00 p.m.
HOW MUCH DO TICKETS COST AND HOW DO I PURCHASE THEM?
Evening Admission – Parking/Gates open at 4:00 PM
General Admission includes FREE parking Ages five and under FREE
Tickets are good for any General Admission during the 2019 event
Online Tickets Purchased in Advance
$6.50 - Ages six and over
TICKETS MUST BE PRINTED ON PAPER; THEY CANNOT BE SCANNED FROM A MOBILE DEVICE
Tickets at the Gate CASH ONLY
$8 - Ages six and over
FREE for all ages
Parking/Gates open at 5:00 AM
There are three ways to purchase tickets:
1. Purchase tickets at the Memorial Balloon Field. CASH ONLY ACCEPTED.
2. Purchase tickets online via our website at NationalBalloonClassic.com. Scanning from a mobile device is not an option; online tickets MUST be printed in advance and are good for any General Admission during the 2019 event.
3. Purchase tickets at Customer Service at Indianola Hy-Vee located at 910 North Jefferson Way.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THE BALLOONS WILL FLY?
Balloons are scheduled to fly each day at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. During these times, winds are calmest and the air is most stable. All events at the National Balloon Classic are dependent on prevailing weather conditions and subject to weather delays or cancellations. Although every effort is made for a successful balloon launch/land, the safety of our pilots, volunteers, and spectators is our primary concern. Flight decisions are made during Pilot Briefings, which are held approximately 30 minutes before each flight. If extreme weather conditions exist, notices will be posted via social media and our Public Information line. There are times when last minute decisions must be made because winds aloft are extremely fickle. Taking a “wait and see” approach may result in arriving at the field too late and missing a beautiful night of balloon gazing.
WHAT IF THE BALLOONS DON’T FLY?
Weather delays and wind-related cancellations are out of our control; however, ensuring each guest has a wonderful experience is our primary goal. We keep ticket prices low to ensure guest satisfaction. Great bands, great food, and other forms of entertainment including Kids Land activities, make the National Balloon Classic affordable and fun. Even in a weather delay or cancellation, the bands will still take the stage unless extreme conditions prevent them from doing so safely. And often times if winds prevent balloon launch, they calm enough for Nite Glow.
WHERE ARE THE ATM MACHINES LOCATED?
ATM’s are located inside the gates on both the east and west ends of the balloon field and in Spectator Parking across from the main entrance. Credit and debit cards may be used at most concessionaires and to purchase items in the gift shop.
WHERE ARE THE RESTROOMS LOCATED?
There are many portable restrooms located on each end of the balloon field. Hand-washing stations are located at each unit.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO THE BALLOON FIELD?
Bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating. A limited number of chairs are available to rent for $2 per chair. Our 150-acre balloon field is an open, grassy space that provides perfect views from all areas of the field. The balloon field is a perfect space to unplug and unwind.
ARE PETS ALLOWED AT THE BALLOON FIELD?
The only animals allowed are those that align with the ADA’s service animal classification for animals specially trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Any other animal that does not qualify as service animals under the ADA is not allowed on the Memorial Balloon Field grounds.
IS SMOKING ALLOWED AT THE BALLOON FIELD?
Absolutely no smoking is allowed at the balloon field. No smoking includes electronic cigarettes.
CAN I BRING MY OWN FOOD AND BEVERAGES?
We have a large variety of food and beverage vendors at the balloon field including a beer tent. No outside food, beverages, or coolers are allowed. Bags and backpacks are subject to inspection.
WHAT OTHER ITEMS ARE NOT ALLOWED AT THE BALLOON FIELD?
No drones, no laser pointers, no knives or weapons of any kind, no fireworks, no tents, no umbrellas.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE BALLOON SOUVENIRS?
Official apparel, souvenirs, and essentials like bug spray and sunscreen may be purchased at the Gift Shop located inside the main entrance to the east.
HOW DO HOT AIR BALLOONS COMPETE?
A hot air balloon “race” is based on flying accuracy and skill rather than speed. Pilots compete in several different tasks every morning and evening; however, morning competition is for points, which determine the overall National Balloon Classic Champion and the North Central Regional Champion.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO DURING THE DAY?
Hot air balloons do not fly during the heat of the day; therefore, after the morning flights, the balloon field gates remain locked until the evening session. This is the perfect time to explore our great community. Trails, shopping, dining, breweries and wineries; Indianola and Warren County have many great things to do and see. For more information, visit IndianolaChamber.com. No trip to the National Balloon Classic is complete without a visit to the National Balloon Museum and U.S. Hall of Fame, which is home to over 200 years of ballooning history. Visit https://www.nationalballoonmuseum.com for more information.
HOW CAN I VOLUNTEER?
The National Balloon Classic, a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization relies on hundreds of volunteers to make the 9-day event a success. Volunteers help in all areas including balloon chase crews, Public Information, gate hosting, ticket taking, hospitality, and VIP areas. Must be 16 years or older or accompanied by an adult. If you would like to volunteer, please contact our office at (515) 961-8415 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For up-to-date information, schedule changes, added entertainment, and balloon news, follow us on Facebook at National Balloon Classic or visit our website at NationalBalloonClassic.com. Public Information phone lines will be available during the event; numbers will be posted on our website.
National Balloon Classic
PO Box 346
Indianola, Iowa 50125
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