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PERRY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)– The Georgia National Fairgrounds geared up for the South Georgia Balloon Festival this weekend.
Overseer of balloons, Patrick Fogue, has enjoyed ballooning since his he was a kid. Fogue says he loves competing in flying competitions and going to festivals. He says it’s disappointing to see so many balloon festivals canceled this year.
“With the pandemic, it’s put a little damper on our summer as well as other balloon events,” Fogue stated. “We’ve had very few balloon events this year as well as any other concerts, fairs, and those kinds of things and whatnot. But I guess we’re finally going to give it a whirl here.”
Fogue says he’s looking forward to bringing joy through his passion to Middle Georgians.
“Just the smiles on people’s faces, they can just come out and enjoy it,” Fogue said. “Just come out because it’s fun and it’s nice and the people on I-75 can see it too.”
To make sure everyone stays safe from COVID-19, the fairgrounds have precautions in place. When buying a ticket, you must verify that no one in your party has tested positive or had exposure to COVID-19. Fairground staff encourages people to wear masks, use hand sanitizer frequently, and stay socially distanced from those not in your party.
Festival vendor, Darlene Steen, says her crew tries to be as cautious as they can.
“So far we haven’t really had any trouble with COVID,” Steen explained. “We try to be safe and we have our hand sanitizer and all.”
Steen says she’s happy to see people feeling more comfortable with leaving their homes.
“I think people want to get out and do things and hopefully they’re ready to shop, but it’s going to be fun and feel like we’re getting back to normal,” Steen stated.
The hot air balloons run from October 23 through the 25. The balloons go up at 5 p.m. each night.