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Plan for Carolina BalloonFest altered for 2020, festival tribute in the works

Plan for Carolina BalloonFest altered for 2020, festival tribute in the works

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The COVID-19 situation is altering the plans for the Carolina BalloonFest.

This year, the organization that puts on the festival is opting to eliminate public attendance.

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, National Balloon Rally Charities Inc. announces that in lieu of a typical 2020 Carolina BalloonFest, the nonprofit will work with local pilots to host a festival tribute, with balloons in the sky over Iredell County, during the month of October. Details are not finalized regarding this tribute event, which will be held at an undetermined location. The public will be made aware of more specific details in the next few months. Details of this event will be made widely available to the public through the Carolina BalloonFest website and social media, as well as shared with local media outlets.

Forty-seven years ago, a small group of tenacious individuals gathered in a rural field to host the National Balloon Rally — an annual event that hosts pilots from around the country (and world). Since its creation, this event has captivated the hearts and minds of both local and visiting onlookers, who take in the sights and sounds of the balloons that navigate the Iredell County skies. Resolved with a perseverance to spread their knowledge and love for the sport of hot air ballooning, in addition to supporting their community, the National Balloon Rally became an incorporated 501©(3) nonprofit in 1988. Its mission resolves “to continue the heritage of hot air ballooning in Iredell County, spotlight the community of Iredell County, and donate a percentage of Carolina BalloonFest proceeds to local nonprofit organizations.”

National Balloon Rally Charities, Inc. DBA Carolina BalloonFest has faced many challenges, trials and tribulations over the years, but the nonprofit has thrived in promoting hot air ballooning, and in providing annual donations to support its community. This is all possible because of the grit and determination of dedicated individuals who have volunteered their time to NBRC, Inc.’s cause and mission.

With the festival’s origins in mind, and a hopeful future ahead, it is with heavy hearts that the board of directors for NBRC, Inc. makes its decision to alter this year’s Carolina BalloonFest — eliminating public attendance from the annual event for the year 2020.

“This decision does not come lightly,” said Bud Welch, executive director of Carolina BalloonFest. Since early March, Welch and the board of directors have been in heavy discussion about the outlook of this year’s festival amid COVID-19 concerns and restrictions. “A huge part of that conversation revolved around our nonprofit’s mission in which we donate a portion of Carolina BalloonFest proceeds to over 20 nonprofit organizations and community agencies within Iredell County.”

National Balloon Rally Charities, Inc. DBA Carolina BalloonFest champions other nonprofits and community agencies that help others within the community. To show community support, NBRC, Inc. donates $100,000 on an annual basis to a growing number of nonprofits and other agencies, and in the last 10 years, has donated over $780,000 back to the local community.

“Despite these restrictions and regulations, we recognize that these entities are still counting on our donations as a source of income,” said Welch.

“We as a nonprofit are going to do the very best we can to raise funds this year in an effort to continue with some type of an annual donation to our community. But that also meant deciding to scale back our annual event for this year; a decision that will secure the well-being of our nonprofit so that we may continue to give those donations year after year to the nonprofits and community agencies that depend on it.”

The Carolina BalloonFest has always been a community event; the festival is operated by nearly 1,000 local volunteers, entertains more than 40,000 patrons both locally and from the southwestern region of the United States, all while creating tourism commerce within Iredell County during the third weekend in October. Additionally, the nonprofit adds another $100,000 back into the community from its annual donation from festival ticket sales.

We rise so others can soar — but this year, we need your help is the campaign rally organizers have launched. To donate to the Carolina BalloonFest cause and mission, or to learn more about NBRC, Inc. or the decision for this year’s festival, visit: www.CarolinaBalloonFest.com.

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