Balloon race numbers strong this year

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015

(Photo illustration by Ben Hillyer)

(Photo illustration by Ben Hillyer)

NATCHEZ — Even though balloons didn’t make many flights during last month’s annual Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, crowds turned out anyway.

Balloon Race Assistant Director Trevor Brown said organizers were not sure if the overall race set an attendance record, but at least one night led over past years.

“We had an estimated attendance of 15,000 to 17,000 for the weekend,” Brown said. “Our attendance was certainly up. I have had several people tell me that was the biggest Friday night crowd we have ever had.”

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Food and Merchandise Director Mimi Miller said Friday night T-shirt sales were better than they have ever been for any previous balloon race Friday night.

The race committee is still waiting for final invoices before it can declare its total profits, but this year’s race appears to have done well, Brown said, and organizers feel that this year’s race drew a lot of first-time attendees.

The race included an added local crafts market and a new beer tent offering craft beer in addition to the musical acts and other festival events.

“We are looking to see what we can do to cut expenses and keep improving the event so people want to keep coming back — without them coming on our site, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Brown said.

“With the attendance looking to be up, the only thing keeping us from calling it a huge success was the fact we couldn’t launch balloons.”