The Big E

The elephant ride was in the past and we began working our way toward the big circus tent. It was loud and people were everywhere! Your senses are bombarded by noise, color, smells. Some smells were barnyard and others were mouth watering aromas as we passed food booths. It was lunchtime after all. T shirt stalls abounded and one of the buildings was crammed to the rafters with souvenirs! If you want to spend money it sure looks like we came to the right place.

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We stopped to watch an automated calliope, very ornate. The kids were fascinated.

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There was the circus tent, my goal du jour!

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But we were too late. The 12 o’clock show was full. The attendant recommended we come back at 3 pm for the 4 pm show so that was the plan. In the meantime we headed toward the food stalls for lunch.

Progress was slow as you can imagine. The kids wanted to try everything, even the giant slide.

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We were looking for the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses but didn’t see them. The kids zeroed in on the bear exhibit. That turned out to be a favorite with the kids as they visited it a second time later in the day.

It was a hot day so we were all sweaty and thirsty by this time so lunch was under an umbrella at a corn dog stand and what corn dogs they were! Foot longs or larger and giant drinks. It was a welcome break.

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We still had so much to see.


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Coming soon

More Fair stories and pictures.

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But for now I just have to say…this isn’t October’s Bright Blue Weather. It hasn’t stopped raining since the calendar turned the page!

rainy day (laff4k)

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80 degrees in September

WOW! Blue sky and hot weather. Seems like a summer’s day not late September. Near Southeastern MA where I live the leaves made a sudden color change this week.

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We are starting to see some reds and oranges sprinkled in among the greens and browns. But out near the western part of MA it’s still very green.

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I know this because last week I drove the Mass Pike (RT 90) from New York to Worcester as I came back from the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Now, on the spur of the moment, I’m driving the same route again on my way to the BIG E, also known as The Eastern States Exposition. It is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth largest fair in the nation and I’ve never been.

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To encourage me with this adventure I’ve picked up Nancy and her 2 children , Alex and Dawn. After all what’s a fair if you don’t have kids to enjoy it. It’s been years since I’ve been to any fair but I know there are lots of animals at this one, 4 H exhibits and the signature dessert, The Big E Cream Puff.

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It’s about a 2 hour drive and we made one stop along the way for a bathroom break and leg stretch. The kids used to fall asleep on long rides but as they have gotten older they are more alert. They entertained themselves in the back seat with electronic toys and minimal sibling fighting.

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We made it to the fair right about noon. We thought we had plenty of time to make the 1 pm circus in the big top. So we took our time heading in that direction. In fact, as soon as we entered the gates there was an elephant ride. Dare-devil Dawn had to try that right away.

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A camel stood in the background and ponies carried smaller children. On the other side of the elephant was a petting zoo. So much to do and we just got here!

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They Call It Moonglow

Moonglow. Not a super moon.

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At the 40th Anniversary Balloon Festival it was 3 tethered balloons glowing  in the dark. The photo that resulted is one of my favorites . The Boston Globe newspaper liked it too as it was featured “above the fold” in one of the Sunday editions.

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The “Moonglow” was my main reason for attending the Festival this year. As much as I like the photo from 2012, I felt that I could do better. I wanted another try. This year they planned on more than 3 balloons. Moonglow was going to be at the airport. It was scheduled for 8 pm Saturday night.

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There was also a 5 pm launch but as we arrived at the airport we learned that the 5 pm launch had been grounded due to high wind gusts. Disappointing but not a disaster. After all we had loads of pictures from Friday evening’s launch.

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We set up our lawn chairs and settled in to wait. The breeze was pretty stiff and it began to get chilly but we hung in there. We were hoping that if the balloons were tethered maybe they’d still be able to pull off the Moonglow.

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Alas, it was not to be. About 7:30 the chase teams began to pack up. They moved the baskets to the tarmac and lined them up. To a rousing sound track they sent propane flames skyward but no balloons.

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The Festival was over for us.

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There was a final launch scheduled for dawn on Sunday but we had no plans to attend that one.

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So I will leave you with a few more photos from Friday night

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And the promise that I will try again another year to capture that perfect “moonglow” picture.

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“Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon????”

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They came in Waves

2 years ago we thought the show was pretty good but this year the launch far out-shown anything from 2012.

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I don’t know how many balloons made it up but they launched in waves. You watched them drift overhead and turned to follow them out of sight only to turn around to more balloons lifting into the air. We heard the goal was to get 80 balloons in the air. I think they made it.

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Music filled the air providing a sound track to the spectacle. Each balloon was unique. Bright colored traditional balloons rose side by side with whimsical animals and even a sci-fi Icon.

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Yes , there was even an 85 ft, 600 lb black balloon that struck fear in the hearts of the rebel alliance. Darth Vader himself rose from the ground to the strains of the Star Wars Overture. Darth was definitely the celebrity  of the day. Sadly he remained tethered and we never got to see him soar.

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Once of my favorite images was when a brightly colored balloon seemed to rise over Darth Vader ‘s helmet like a tiny moon. Several looked like they might not clear his 85 ft. height.

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Right next to us was large black and white balloon that turned out to be a giant Panda!

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As the balloon inflated children romped in its shadow.  What a thrill to be so close to the behemoth as it inflated!

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I was too close and then I wanted to zoom in on a more distant balloon. I was juggling lenses every few shots! Now I know why the photography team all hand at least 2 cameras around  their necks. Maybe next time I’ll have that extra camera too.

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We Have Lift Off!

Thursday night was the kick off to the 42nd Adirondack Balloon Festival and all of the balloons were grounded by the weather, mostly the winds.

Friday seemed to be much more favorable so we headed to the airport about 4:30 pm for the afternoon launch. We had pre-paid parking which I highly recommend! Why? Because it gets you much closer to the airport proper and when you are carrying a chair and camera gear, less is certainly more. :)

You need to arrive early and for ballooners it’s almost like going to a football game and tailgating! There are food trucks and craft vendors. The kites always do well and there are always a bunch of them flying as we wait for the main event, the hot air balloons.

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You never know if there is going to be a launch until right before they go up. All eyes watch the wind socks because wind gusts will put a kibosh on the launch every time. Safety First.

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As I said, Friday night seemed to hold a lot of promise. The sky was clear and the wind sock was limp. Sandy and I lugged our chairs and I lugged my camera and we staked out a spot near one of the chase trucks. We could see a few balloons being spread out and one purple balloon was starting to inflate. There was a good turnout here already.

Getting around is crucial for the ballooners. They have to go to the pilot’s tent for updates and run around on all sorts of errands as the launch deadline approaches. One enterprising ballooner found a new way to get around quickly… A Segway!

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Finally at just about 5 pm we began to hear the whoosh whoosh of the propane tanks firing and balloons began inflating all around us.

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The first Balloon to take off was a really pretty purple-blue balloon that had a elongated shape, not the traditional balloon shape. The wind, what there was of it was pushing the balloon in our direction. Perfect positioning.

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For some reason the balloon didn’t seem to be gaining altitude. As it passed over the airport terminal building toward the trees we all wonder if it would clear them. It did, but just barely, the bottom of the basket actually scraping the top branches.

Not too much farther on they seemed to give up the fight and down it came. So the first balloon up was also the first balloon down. We heard later that it may have had a leak.

But while our attention was fixed on the purple-blue balloon and it’s troubles, the other ballooners were hard at work.

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Balloons over the Adirondacks

Yesterday was the first day of the Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival. Opening festivities were planned for Crandall Park in Glens Falls, NY. But then the rains came and the wind gusts started…up to 10 miles per hour according to the weather reports. So they held the block party but no balloons in the air.

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Maybe today will be better.

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