Crowds enjoy their up-close look at the hot air balloons during Saturday's BalloonFest.

ASHLAND — It's a big year for the Ashland BalloonFest. 

By the 1960s, Ashland had become known as the "Balloon Capital of the World" thanks to the workers in local companies such as Eagle Rubber Co. (now Hedstrom), General Latex, Mohican Rubber Co., and Ashland Rubber, who were producing an average of 8 million balloons per day.

Beginning in 1963 and for the next few years, Ashland celebrated its place in the industry with parades, balloon-making demonstrations, pageants, food, music, war displays, and contests.

Now, Ashland BalloonFest has become an annual tradition for local residents as well as a draw for out-of-town guests.

We're asking our readers to reflect on this one-of-a-kind celebration over the last three decades as Ashland BalloonFest celebrates its 30th anniversary. 

Use our Open Source form to share your favorite memories at BalloonFest over the years. We'll be publishing your stories during the festival, starting on June 24. 

Perhaps it's a memory of seeing not one hot air balloon, but dozens filling the sky with spots of several different shades and hues.

Maybe it's recalling the beauty of one of the nightly balloon glows, watching the balloons speckle the night sky to choreographed movements accompanied by music.

Have you met someone from far away during a past BalloonFest?

“I’ve seen this become more of a destination event,” said Misty Miller in 2016. “I’ve had people contact me from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee. I’ve even had some folks from California say, ‘Hey we’re traveling the U.S. and we saw your festival. Can we camp?’ People from all over the country are coming to check out our festival, which is phenomenal.”

Or are your memories of BalloonFest being passed down to the next generation?

“There’s just something special about Balloonfest,” said Ashlander Kelly Knowlton at the 29th annual Balloonfest. “It’s hard to put into words, but it just feels so quintessentially summer.

“Kids are running around, everyone is enjoying good food and listening to music. It’s one of those occasions that makes you want to take a mental snapshot,” she said.

“I can remember so many moments with my kids sitting on my lap and seeing the reflection of the balloon glow on their faces. I have those same memories with my own parents.”

Over the past 29 years, even with unpredictable weather, the Ashland BalloonFest has been a memorable weekend for the community of Ashland. There have always been over 20 to 30 balloons participating, with the record being 39 balloons in 2005.

Because of COVID-19, the Ashland BalloonFest had to cancel its event for 2020. A big celebration is being planned for 2021 for the 30th year of high-flying fun.

Enjoy lots of other activities: Balloon Glow, balloon races, stage performances, sport tournaments, displays, exhibits, food and more. Everyone will enjoy the colorful Ashland skies as the hot air balloons fill the air for this memorable weekend.

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