Get your first view of Toughkenamon from the air. A quaint town in the County of Chester, Toughkenamon is home to just a few thousand people, yet the hospitality is second to none. This area and the towns surrounding it offers a myriad of unique places to visit and sights to see. Gardens, vineyards, parks, nature preserves, and an animal sanctuary combine this region of Pennsylvania and Delaware into an outdoor lover’s paradise.
Along with the exploration of the area comes the main event, the Chester County Balloon Festival. This non-profit celebration of the majesty of air balloons in flight is held over three days in June. With a promise of fun for the whole family, the event offers a blast for even the busiest of kids.
Take flight in a helicopter, brave the zip line, marvel at a Monster Truck Show, and learn to ride a motorcycle. Sit back and watch a remote control plane demo or a thrilling paraglide demonstration. The children can take a romp in the Kid Zone and play on flight simulators or take part in a ballooning workshop. Live bands, vendor tents, and spectacular balloon glows round out the festival, which benefits charities and community groups each year.
Tickets to the festival are a bargain often around $20. Those between the ages of six and twelve will cost about $10, and kids under six are free. If you want to book a tethered balloon ride, a balloon flight, or a helicopter ride, keep in mind they sell out fast. As well, they are weather dependent, and if the skies do not cooperate, no refunds are issued. See www.ccballoonfest.com for details on the Chester County Balloon Festival.
Toughkenamon is about 45 minutes away from Philadelphia via I-95 S and US-1 S, with other major roads possibly bringing you to the Chester County area. As you drive through the beautiful rural area, watch for wildlife that makes this part of the state their home. Use the 511 road alert system to keep on top of potential problems and traffic issues as you make your way around Philadelphia or surrounding areas. Entering Toughkenamon, look for signage to the airfield where the Chester County Balloon Festival takes place.
Plan to park early so that you do not miss the launch you are arriving to enjoy. Traffic can delay the parking procedure and then there is the walk to the field, although it is close. Attendees park for free on the grass beside the launch field. There is a paved area for ADA parking.
There is no public transportation in the town of Toughkenamon. If you are staying in a surrounding area, you can make use of a taxi service and get dropped at the field, if you do not have a tow vehicle or do not want to bring your rig there. However, the field is large and easily accessible, making for good maneuverability.
The Chester County Balloon Festival does not have space allocated for RV camping. The surrounding towns and further outlying areas have plenty of options for parking your rig and setting up camp for a fun-filled holiday. Have a family meeting to decide on what amenities you would like to have this road trip.
Visit Lyndell, Kinzers, or New Holland and take a side trip into Amish country along the way. Head down just a few miles to Delaware and visit Lums Pond State Park in Bear. Maryland is a gorgeous part of the region, with RV parks that allow you to set up an oasis to return to after days exploring the forests, lakes, and historical highlights.
Comfortable shoes are a necessity when attending a balloon festival. Grassy terrain is the norm. Although the Chester County Balloon Festival is wheelchair-friendly, there are a few hills which get slippery with dew or in the event of inclement weather. Strollers may be navigable but be aware of balloon tether lines as you move about the fields.
Daytime temperatures can be quite warm and the nights pleasant, the ideal conditions for hot air balloon flight. Dress the family in shorts and t-shirts with a sun hat to top the outfit. The sun’s rays quickly burn faces and ears that are not protected. Pack a rain poncho in your day bag just in case rain clouds roll into Toughkenamon.
A well prepared for trip includes items for family fun and for safety. Board games, lake and pool toys, and lots of good books for relaxation time of young and old are a must. Practical items you cannot leave home without are flashlights, toiletries, kitchen items, bug spray, and rain boots. Shoes that stay on your feet and are comfortable in morning dew are a good idea for balloon days.
Hydration is the key word when spending hours in the sun watching balloons launch or listening to a talented band perform on stage. Remind the kids to stop for a drink and a rest in the shade a few times a day. This is a good time for the reapplication of bug spray and sunscreen. While at the festival, remind the family to stick together, so there is no separation in the crowd. Have a designated meetup place planned in the event it does happen.
Start the day with yogurt cups topped with granola and fruit. After a day at the festival, prepare a colorful plate of vegetables and dip, reminiscent of the colors of the balloons in flight. Burgers and hot dogs on the grill make for an easy end of day meal. Before leaving home, top up the RV water and propane supply and ensure that the stock of charcoal briquets is full.
Old world cuisine, farm to table fare, seafood grill, and casual bistro cooking: the Chester County region has it all. Decide on your taste desire for the evening and choose the seating arrangement. Pick your menu favorite and relax around a table of friends and family in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Over 100 vendors await visitors ready to try statewide favorite foods like soft pretzels and local beer or wine. Artisans display handmade crafts and balloon festival souvenirs. ATMs are on site, and not all vendors will accept credit or debit cards.
There will be fans in operation near the balloons. Keep your children close by and do not allow them to walk on the tether lines or be in close proximity to where the balloons are stationed. No alcohol, coolers, or pets are allowed. Smoking is strictly forbidden because there is propane in use on the launch field.
The weather plays a big part in a balloon festival weekend. Storms, heavy wind, rain, and thick cloud cover can delay or prevent the balloons from taking off. If this is the case, the festival cannot issue refunds for balloon ride tickets, but the funds will still go to charity. Pack rain gear for puddle jumping and looking for worms after the rainfall has finished.
Service dogs wearing proper identification are permitted at the Chester County Balloon Festival, but other pets must remain at home. The event, with the giant balloons and multitudes of people, can be a stressful place for animals to be. Back at camp, keep a fully stocked first aid kit with after-sun spray, antibiotic cream, band-aids, and gauze.