If riding in a hot air balloon up in that vast cloud-dappled sky is on your bucket list, you might want to clear your calendar.
People will get the chance to soar 100 feet in the air at the NWI Hot Air Balloon Fest in Valparaiso this summer.
Monica Jimenez Susoreny and her company JumpStartPR, who also organize the NWI Food Truck Fest, plan to bring the hot air balloon festival to the Sunset Hill Farm County Park at 775 Meridian Road in Valparaiso between noon and 9 p.m. Aug. 4.
Attendees will have the chance to rise on tethered balloons for five to six minutes in groups of six to eight people between 6:30 and 9 p.m. The Midwest Balloon Company will provide at least 12 to 15 balloons for the festival.
"You can see for a couple of miles," Susoreny said. "It's really beautiful. The experience is just amazing. It's a unique experience and a lasting memory."
The all-day event also will include food trucks, live music, a beer and wine garden, craft and artisan vendors and family-friendly entertainment like a bounce house.
Susoreny was inspired to organize the festival after going on a hot air balloon ride over Burns Harbor and realizing there was a demand for it.
"A tether ride is a great way to experience a hot air balloon at a fraction of the cost of a traditional balloon ride," Susoreny said. "You will ascend up to 100 feet and at the top height have the chance to look around before ascending back to the ground. The ride will last 5 to 6 minutes, which is longer than it seems when riding in a balloon."
The response already exceeded Susoreny's expectations and she's hoping to make it an annual two-day summer festival.
"There are a lot of summer festivals in Northwest Indiana, but really nothing like this," she said. "I don't know of any other festival in the area that has so many balloons at one time in one area. It's not as big but this is trying to be like that famous hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque."
All the balloons will be handicapped-accessible. The event will be pet-friendly and there will be a make-up date, to be determined but likely later in August, if rain or strong winds delay the festival.
Tickets are $20, and parking costs $5 per carload.