If the weather is good, the QuickChek Festival of Ballooning can be fun. When we went last year, it was approximately 300 degrees (heat index) outside and we were on an airstrip with no natural shade. Well, at some point we had a little shade when the tethered balloon carrying customers up a few hundred feet at $20 a pop went up, blocking the sun. But their ride was short, and so was our shade.
The festival promised up to 125 balloons in a mass ascension. That was a big deception. They rose one at a time, and we counted 55. Not that 55 balloons in the sky isn’t a beautiful sight. But it would have been more accurate to say “up to 60 balloons” and then expectations would have been lowered – of course so would ticket sales.
The most popular booths at this festival were the drink sponsors giving away one ounce liquid samples. We didn’t particularly care what kind of liquids – we were so thirsty, we might have sucked down antifreeze. Even the kids commented how delicious the diet teas and Pepsi One sodas were. They certainly tasted better than the water we brought, which was at boiling point after about 15 minutes.
In terms of activities, they have a kids’ tent. Here’s what’s on the lineup:
Then there are the concerts. The concerts are free, but if you want a close-up seat you need to pay. Still, with kids, who can sit through an entire concert? Last year we sat on the sidelines and there was no speaker pointed in our direction. That made it difficult to hear, even though we had a full view of the open stage. This year’s line-up includes Eddie Money (Friday, July 27 at 8 p.m.), Smokey Robinson (Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m.), Ross Lynch from Austin and Aly (Sunday, July 29 at 1 p.m.), and Bret Michaels (Sunday, July 29 at 3 p.m.),
Highlights: the misting tent (wet t-shirt contest!)
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You can go on a tethered balloon ride for $20. Not so exciting if you ask me (though I didn’t do it). You can go on an untethered balloon ride for $200-$225.
IF YOU GO
When: July 27-29, 2012
Where: Solberg Airport at Whitehouse Station. Directions here.
Tickets: You can get discounted tickets at the QuickChek store. You can also get discounted tickets online, though you’ll pay a fee.
Advanced adult general admission tickets are $17. Advanced kid general admission tickets (ages 4-12) are $7. Ages 3 and under are free.
At the gate, adult general admission tickets are $30, kids tickets are $15. Ages 3 and under are free.
Parking: $5 (get free parking by using the shuttle bus from Raritan Valley College. Info here.
Food: they have plenty of food and drink stands. You won’t go hungry.