Committee keeps balloon race thriving

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Volunteer organizers of the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race showed their determination over the last few years by turning the lemons delivered by Mother Nature into lemonade.

The balloon race has always lived and died by the whims of weather. Rain and anything but practically perfect conditions can make flying dangerous for hot-air balloon pilots.

A spate of bad weather had put the annual fundraiser on the brink of disaster — nearly broke to the point at which the next year’s race was in jeopardy. The proverbial “rainy day” fund had been tapped and the weather refused to cooperate.

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In 2013, when the bills were all paid the entire effort earned $18.32.

Fortunately the wise heads on the balloon race committee got together and built a plan to tackle the problem.

First they raised the price of sponsorships, which helped the next year’s race turn a healthy profit.

Next, organizers increased the price of T-shirts and wisely added a craft beer component to the festival in 2015, which doubled the profit of the previous year.

This year, organizers are beginning to tweak ticket prices a bit, which will certainly raise the ire of some people. All of the work to improve the financial stability of the balloon race is appreciated.

The balloon race has a major economic impact on many, many businesses in Natchez — some of which greatly contribute through sponsorships and other involvement and some of which do not.

Make no mistake, however, all of Natchez benefits from the success of the balloon race. Natchez cannot afford to have the race not succeed, so we say, “Thanks,” to the committee, and let’s offer our collective help to them in whatever way is necessary to make the race thrive for many years to come.