The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally is an event that encourages participation and welcomes enthusiasm. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about the unique hot air balloon world and to maybe even try your hand at crewing.
Chase crews aid in the launch by helping to inflate the balloon. The pilot is then followed across the sky by the crew in their vehicles, to be ready to assist with the landing.
If watching the balloon ascension is more your style, stay on the ground and take part in the festivities there. Cheer on parade participants and tap your toe to the sounds of local musicians. Kids galore will be on hand to watch the launches and play on the children’s rides. Visit the vendor booths and don’t forget your balloon fest gear, on sale at the Official Great Wellsville Balloon Rally Store.
While in Allegany County, shop, dine, and plan your next outdoor adventure. An area rich in beauty and places to explore, Wellsville offers a myriad of things to do, as do surrounding villages like Cuba, Andover, and Belfast.
Visit www.wellsvilleballoonrally.com to get the scoop on this free family event. Take part in the fun all weekend long at no cost to you, other than your vendor purchases and fabulous balloon merchandise. Revel in concerts under the stars and marvel at a spectacular fireworks display. The balloon launches will top off a wonderful weekend.
The NY-417 takes you right into Wellsville, the heart of the action. Signage will be clear and plentiful as you approach the village. You will be passing through rural areas, so be mindful of wildlife along the way. Take a picnic and meander off the highway for a stop at a wooded area like Vandermark State Forest. Before leaving home, sign up for NY-Alert to keep abreast of weather conditions and traffic situations as you make your way through the state.
Parking is not found on the launch site but is close by, just across the river. Traverse the footbridge to make your way to the festival. Signage for the parking will be clear and easily followed. Enjoy the walk and view the landscape of this pretty village as you walk along the water's edge.
ACCESS Allegany travels between the towns of the county. If their transit schedule does not fit the times and areas you want to visit, take advantage of a ridesharing option. Free shuttles are available from several sites in town; check the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally website for shuttle details.
The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally does not offer onsite camping except for those who are piloting the hot air balloons or running vendor tents at the fest. However, Allegany County has an abundance of premier campgrounds for you to discover. Gather the family around the table and choose your favorite camping location.
Whether your preference for accommodations while on road trips are private or state-run campgrounds, you can find either one easily when visiting the New York region. Research your favorite trails at Allegany State Park, located in Salamanca. Or, check Franklinville, Cuba, East Otto, and more for campgrounds accessible to RVs, large or small.
Be prepared for lots of walking while at the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally. Remember, there is no parking on the festival grounds at Island Park, so walking across the footbridge is required. You may have to navigate through grass and uneven terrain at the park so if you have a stroller, wagon, or wheelchair, keep this in mind. Inclement weather can make for slippery and muddy grass.
Dressing in layers is always the recommendation for balloon festivals. The first launch of the day is typically around 6 a.m., and this means that the ground will be covered in dew. Boots are the best bet for keeping feet dry. Pack comfortable shoes for later in the day. T-shirts under sweaters work well for all family members. Have the kids tote a hat, too, for protection from both the sun and the wind.
Your festival gear list is a simple one. Bring a water bottle, your camera, a rain poncho, and a blanket or chairs for sitting on as you view the colors in the sky. Watch the launches and concerts in style with comfortable seating. For the best camping experience, be well prepared with a flashlight, bug spray, toiletries, and outdoor games for the kids. If you plan on trekking Pine Hill Trail or Genesee Valley Greenway Trail, bring along hiking boots for everyone.
Ample applications of heavy-duty bug spray and sunscreen will ensure that no one gets bitten by mosquitos or burned by the sun. Have after-sun spray in the motorhome just in case, but make every effort to remind the kiddos to take a break in the shade and reapply protection. Hydration is essential, too. Carry bottles of water or offer the kids a cool refreshment from a vendor booth in between games and entertainment.
The crisp and fresh New York state air will encourage hearty appetites, so be prepared. Your menu will depend on how much time you plan to cook. If you choose to prep your meals and salads ahead of time, ensure that the food is stored safely in the RV refrigerator or a shaded cooler topped with ice. Clean up leftovers promptly so as not to draw wild animals to your camping site.
Allegany County is peppered with restaurants serving homestyle meals sure to please a variety of tastes. Fill up on steaks, beef sandwiches, and pulled pork. The kids will be happy with pizza and all the fixings, or barbecue chicken with fries on the side. If you have room, end the night with donuts and double-dipped ice cream before heading back to the campervan for a sleep under the stars.
Don’t leave the balloon fest without checking out the vendor booths. Local artisans show off their hard work and unique craftsmanship. Festival fare is always a treat, and the kids will want to try one of everything. The balloon merchandise store is a must as well, so be sure to make a stop there.
Instruct the kiddos on maintaining boundaries around the balloons. Keep away from tether lines and make sure the little ones are aware of the purpose of the flames under the balloon openings. If you are planning to chase a balloon to its landing site, drive carefully and be aware of others on the road. Do not smoke anywhere on the launch site due to the use of propane.
Weather plays a big part in a balloon festival and the launching times and procedures. The ascension of the balloons is typically at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the winds are calmest. Patience is a necessity in the event of a delay. The pilots will take off when the conditions are the safest. Rain can hinder the ascension as packing and storing a wet balloon is avoided at all costs.
When thinking of your camping prep, don’t forget the importance of a well-stocked first aid kit. Being able to take care of bumps and bruises along the road makes for a stress-free trip. Before leaving home, do an inventory, and verify the best before dates of liquids and creams like peroxide and antibacterial ointment. Pack band-aids, gauze, tape, tweezers, and scissors as well.