Brookfield, Missouri is described by balloonists as “a great place to land,” and over 45 giant balls of vibrant hue do just that as an annual event. This derby is excitement from start to finish with championship races on the line, and a balloon glow display sure to please.
Pilots arrive from all over North America to participate in the launch and race events. Balloons of every color are yours to admire – choose your favorite and cheer them on as they soar across the Missouri sky.
Between the displays of elegance and vibrancy, enjoy the activities on the ground, too. You will find plenty to do with action taking place at the Myron Peacher Memorial Launch Site, Twin Parks, and Main Street, Brookfield.
Garage sales, flea markets, and vendor booths await shoppers. Children can participate in a “dress your ride” event to decorate their strollers, bikes, and trikes in true balloon fashion. A parade takes place later in the day. The fun lasts from sunrise to sunset, so pack a backpack with supplies to last all day.
Tickets to attend the balloon derby are a bargain at less than $5 a person. A price for carloads is in effect, too and this may prove to be the best way to go. See www.pershingballoonderby.com for details on the carload cost and the full weekend attendance deals.
U.S. Route 36 takes you to Brookfield, and once there, volunteers can direct you to the Myron Peacher Memorial Launch Site. Signage will be clear and plentiful, so have your navigator on the lookout. Before leaving home, familiarize yourself with the MoDOT website for information on road closures and delays due to construction or weather-related incidents.
Parking is plentiful at the launch field and is included in your ticket price. Volunteers will assist in directing cars and RVs to suitable spots. As you drive in the field, be aware of people and the possibility of emergency vehicles passing through the parking area.
While there is no bus transit system in Brookfield, those who prefer to leave their motorhome at the campground can taxi to the events via a local company. Service with a smile and maybe even a synopsis of the town’s history will get you to the balloon derby quickly and easily.
Great Pershing Balloon Derby does not have onsite camping facilities, but RV campgrounds in the area offer beautiful sites and exciting excursions within easy reach. Fans of birdwatching, kayaking, and trekking can get their fill in Linn County and the surrounding areas. Ask the grounds manager or park ranger for their recommended hike and plan a day to trek the forest.
The region of Brookfield, Clinton, Amboy, Laclede, and Linneus among other towns offers camping at its finest. The options are almost innumerable. Choose a privately owned campground with a babbling brook or serene lake to enjoy. If state parks are your favorite camping locations, look to Pershing or Crowder State Parks for forested recreation areas where you camp under the stars.
The Twin Parks and Main Street activities are easily navigated with a stroller, wagon, or wheelchair. Sidewalks and parking lots are the areas where festivities are held. The launch field is grass and may be slippery with dew in the dawn hours before the balloons take off. Keep this in mind and wear rubber boots first thing in the morning.
Casual attire in layers is the best wardrobe choice for the balloon derby. Early mornings can be cool and damp, with dew covering the ground. Lightweight clothing such as shorts, jeans, and t-shirts make for good daytime wear. A hat is a must, not only for the sun but to protect your face from the wind, too. Bring more than one pair of shoes as a change is always welcome for tired feet.
A well-stocked campervan or motorhome can make the road trip a memorable event. Having everything you need at your fingertips is key. Utensils, pots, pans, and cleanup items are essential for the kitchen. Lawn chairs and blankets allow campers comfort under the shade of a tree overlooking the lake. A flashlight to tote to the Night Flame event and a small radio for keeping up to date on the week’s weather are two items you don’t want to forget.
Sunscreen and bug spray should be on the top of the camping prep list. If you will be hiking a trail in the Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, keep these items in your backpack to ensure that the trek is a pleasant one free of bites and sunburn. At the Great Pershing Balloon Derby, keep the family hydrated by supplying cold drinks throughout the day, and encourage the kids to take a break in the shade every few hours.
Recreational fun means hearty appetites. Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand at the picnic table, stored in your cooler full of ice. Fruits and vegetables are quick and nutritious, and easy for little hands to grab when on the run between the lake and the outdoor games set-up at camp. Stock up on propane and charcoal briquets for evening meals of steaks, fish, burgers, and hot dogs.
One night mid-week, take the chef out for a surprise meal. Choose from Mexican, Chinese, or American Barbecue and spend a relaxing evening over dinner and conversation. If fast food is the treat of the day, the typical selections are available. No matter the taste, every outing at night should be topped with s’mores back at camp.
Great Pershing Balloon Derby has a variety of vendors to please every shopper. Flea market finds, garage sale items and unique balloon festival t-shirts are just a few of the wares you will find in Twin Parks off Main Street. Walk from booth to booth and don’t forget to sample local eats as you make your way through the sites.
Because propane is the fuel used for balloon flight, security measures will be in place to ensure that there is no smoking in proximity to the balloons. Not only is it dangerous, but stray ash could melt balloon fabric. Have identification on your kids in the event of a separation and decide on meeting place just in case. Teach the kids the importance of keeping a wide berth between them and the balloon equipment, and let them know that stepping on tether lines is not acceptable.
The weather has a bearing if a balloon launch can take place. Pilots work with the best conditions possible, which are typically at dawn and dusk. The winds must be less than 10 miles per hour, and there can be no rain or impending storms that can potentially endanger the pilots. Balloons cannot be wrapped up when wet either, so dry conditions are a must for a smooth flying day.
Teach your little travelers RV camping rules. No playing around the fire pit and keep your distance from wildlife. A well-stocked first-aid kit comes in handy in the event of bumps and bruises. Antibiotic cream, peroxide, band-aids, and after sun spray or gel are essential supplies. Pharmacy and medical care facilities are located within the community of Brookfield.