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Great Texas Balloon Race festivities begin today

LONGVIEW, June 22, 2013--July 26-28, 2013 will mark the 36th year of the Great Texas Balloon Race, but this year Longview and East Texas will have a full week of high-flying balloons in the sky because the Balloon Federation of America’s Hot Air Competition Division holds the United States National Championship race in conjunction with our event.

An early morning practice flight will begin the week for the National Championship competitors on Monday July 22nd. Competitive flights for the National event will start Tuesday and continue each morning through Sunday July 28th. The Great Texas Balloon Race will join the ongoing competition on Friday July 26th and go through Sunday July 28th. After the Friday morning flight over Longview, the Festival will open at 4pm at East Texas Regional Airport.

As always, the Great Texas Balloon Race festival will have live concerts both Friday and Saturday nights. This year will feature Cody Canada & the Departed on Friday, and legendary Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers on Saturday. And no GTBR festival would be complete without the fantastic Balloon Glows which nightly entertain crowds with an awesome display of color and excitement. Understandably, they have become one of the most popular things to do at the event, even allowing the public to get up close and watch how balloons are inflated and operated.

Kids Land is a safe and restricted area for children, which requires a small separate entry fee. Activities and attractions differ from year to year but it is always a fun time. Vendors display their arts, crafts and other merchandise in booths lined up along an improvised midway. Food Vendors make sure there is always enough to eat and drink during the day and evening.

Considered by many of the pilots that compete to be the best run event on the circuit, the Great Texas Balloon Race earned Longview the official designation as "The Balloon Capital of Texas" by the Governor of Texas in 1985. And this year, Gregg County was named the Balloon Race Capital of Texas by the 83rd Legislature of Texas.

All competitive flights Tues – Fri will take place and be viewable over the City of Longview and parts of Gregg County (not at the East Texas Regional Airport). Each morning the flight launch and targets will be determined based on prevailing winds.

KYYK’s Gary Richards spoke with Great Texas Balloon Race’s Gai Bennett about the event. Click below for more details.

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