All looking good for festival weather-wise, except for balloon flights on Saturday

Published 12:36 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Balloon Festival begins Friday in Natchez and continues through Sunday, but look upward today and you’re likely to see some of those big, beautiful balloons dotting the sky.

The pilots of the 38 balloons expected to fly in Natchez over the weekend are looking closely at the wind conditions on Saturday.

“As it relates to the balloon flying, everything except during the day on Saturday looks great. Right now it’s not looking great for Saturday morning or afternoon,” said Curtis Moroney, who is a member of the Balloon Festival committee and is the liaison between the committee and the pilots, sponsors and committee.

The wind conditions are the concern, he said. The National Weather Service in Jackson is predicting winds from the north on Saturday at about 15 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 20 miles per hour.

Because of the threat of balloons being unable to fly on Saturday, Moroney and the pilots are looking to squeeze in other flights today and Friday.

“Because of the fact that we know we probably won’t get to fly on Saturday, for those balloons that are not glowing at the festival on Friday night, the others may get out and fly and do something fun Friday afternoon,” he said.

Eight to 10 balloons will be glowing at the festival site on Friday night at the Balloon Glow. That’s the only place balloons will be glowing this year, Moroney said.

Some of the pilots tried to fly this morning, but rather than wind, low clouds and fog prevented that.

“We went looking at three different locations and the clouds were just hovering really low. When you can’t see, you can’t fly,” he said.

The weather is expected to be perfect all of the weekend for festivalgoers. Forecast for Saturday is sunny, clear skies with a high near 70. Saturday night will be a cool one after a cold front arrives Friday night. Low Saturday is expected to be 46 degrees. Sunday’s weather is forecast to be sunny with a high near 72.

“Live at 5 should be great tonight at the bandstand and we will stand a balloon up there. We will also try to get some balloons up this afternoon. Not sure how many yet. Many of the pilots are traveling today and haven’t arrived yet,” he said.

The festival schedule includes:

–NRhythm playing at Live at Five at the bandstand on the Bluff today beginning at 5 p.m.

–Morning Balloon Flight at 7:30 a.m. Friday

–Festival gates open Friday at 4 p.m.

–Balloon Glow on Festival site at Rosalie Friday beginning at 6:45 p.m.

–YZ Ealey plays Friday at 7:30 p.m.

–The Fabulous Thunderbirds play Friday beginning at 9 p.m.

–A morning balloon flight is scheduled at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, if weather permits.

–Festival gates open at 11 a.m. Saturday.

–Matt Willis Trio will play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

–Jamell Richardson begins playing at 4 p.m. Saturday.

–If weather permits, balloons will fly at 4 p.m. Saturday from an offsite location.

–J & The Causeways will play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday

–If weather permits, a balloon glow is planned at the festival site at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

–Tank and the Bangas will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Christone Kingfish Ingram will play at 9 p.m.

–On Sunday morning, a balloon flight is planned at 7:30 a.m., weather permitting, as well as an afternoon flight at 4 p.m.