The 44th Annual Carolina BalloonFest is set for Oct. 20-22, 2017. To learn more about the festival and National Balloon Rally Charities, click here.
BalloonFest returns $100,000 to local nonprofits
BY AMY FUHRMAN
When organizers think about the impact Carolina BalloonFest has on the community, they see both the big and little picture.
The big picture is impressive — $100,000 raised this year from the three-day festival that was distributed Tuesday night among 25 local nonprofits.
But it’s the small things — tutoring for a student at PowerCross; summer camp tuition for a Boy Scout; a meal for a local cancer patient — that make the mission of BalloonFest and National Balloon Rally Charities so rewarding, said Chairman Pressly Mattox.
Making the festival a success, and allowing for sizable donations to nonprofits, takes a community of support that includes sponsors, local governments, balloon enthusiasts, and volunteers, Mattox told the audience gathered at the 2016 Volunteer & Sponsor Celebration at the Statesville Civic Center on Tuesday evening.
“We have all these communities entwined, giving back for a common good,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
In all, this year’s festival had more than 30,000 visitors over its three days, with 530 volunteers working to make it all happen, said Director Robb Collier.
“An estimated 70 percent (of the visitors) come from outside Iredell County, so they’re bringing their dollars and spending them here,” Collier said of the economic impact the festival has on the area.
Piedmonth HealthCare CEO Jeff Smith spoke about his organization's sponsorship of Military Appreciation Day at this year's festival, which raised funds for Fifth Street's Veteran's Transitional Home. During Tuesday evening's event, Smith announced Piedmont HealthCare was adding more to that donation, and said he is proud to call Statesville home.
"This town is amazing and the people who live here are amazing," he said. "(BalloonFest) embodies what Statesville's all about and what Statesville can do."
The festival is also keeping an eye to future growth — with its offshoot Carolina Roots Music Festival set for May 19-20 — and to the past, with an effort to capture the history of the Carolina BalloonFest on film.
To that end, cameras were rolling in October, Mattox said, with the goal of eventually producing a film that celebrates and preserves 43 years of memories.
“We were able to get on film some of the founding fathers of this event to tell the stories of what it was like back in the day when it all started,” he said. “It was fun to watch those old-timers pull together again as a community during the filming.”
BalloonFest itself was also honored with an award by Sam Parks, who presented Mattox with the 2016 Balloon Federation of America Director’s Award for its 43 years of contributions to the sport of hot air ballooning.
The evening ended by welcoming incoming Chairman Kory Massey and presenting checks to the following organizations:
• American Cancer Society Relay for Life
• Statesville Chamber of Commerce
• Boy Scout troop 335
• Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont Region 5
• Statesville Kiwanis
• SCAN of Iredell County
• Boy Scout Troop 174
• Boy Scout Troop 609
• Mitchell Community College Endowment for Excellence
• North Iredell High School Junior ROTC
• North Iredell High School athletics
• Power Cross Ministries
• Civil Air Patrol Iredell Squadron
• Children’s Homes of Iredell County
• West Iredell High Band and Choral Group
• Balloon Federation of America Youth Scholarship Program
• Carolinas Balloon Association Youth Scholarship Program
• Friends of the Animals
• Fifth Street Ministries
• United Way of Iredell County
• In His Steps
• My Sister’s House
• Diakonos Veterans Transitional Housing
• Tribute to the Troops
• Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County
• March of Dimes
• Iredell Christian Ministries
• Boys & Girls Club of the Piedmont