Are your plans for June 9–10 up in the air? They should be! That’s because there’s a fabulous, fun festival happening with hot air balloons, kites, and a whole lot more. Enjoy everything from kite making and crafts to pony rides and live entertainment.

Photo credit: Great American Kites and Events

By Peg Cameron Gill

Get ready to take to the sky—or stay grounded—at the Hot Air Balloon & Kite Festival June 9–10 at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.

The kites of Great American Kites & Events will soar skyward, including awe-inspiring mega kites, power kites, stunt kites, and more. There will also be 22 hot air balloons for a gorgeous glow.

The inaugural festival, brought to you by the Sedalia Chamber of Commerce and sponsors, has something for everyone—especially kids. Little ones can jump for joy in bounce houses. Listen to captivating storytellers. Craft a kite. Pet cute critters in a petting zoo. Marvel at a magician and more.

Grownups are in for a great time, too! Buy a tethered balloon ride. Stretch with yoga. Watch belly and folk dancers, or a Robotics Demo/JROTC Drill Team.

All activities are weather permitting. Thanks to the festival’s sponsors, admission is free! There will be food and drinks available for purchase from on-site vendors, and some activities, such as a tethered balloon ride or pony ride, will charge a fee. Proceeds will go toward ensuring the festival remains a free community event in the future.

Photo credit: Great American Kites and Events

You can learn more about the first ever Sedalia Hot Air Balloon & Kite Festival here

Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days,” is a classic. Who can forget the adventures of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout? Today, there’s a  BBC series based on it, and even a board game!

Another balloon-based tale hits closer to home—L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz.” It may have been set in neighboring Kansas, but it captured the imagination of the whole country. 

Back in 1967, The Fifth Dimension had the country singing, “Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon…”

Our fascination with hot air balloons has been around for years. And in fact, hot air ballooning is the oldest form of aviation, as well as one of the simplest. A hot air balloon works because hot air rises. 

There are two main types of hot air balloon, both developed in the late 18th century and still used today.

The more common ‘Montgolfier’ type uses fire to heat the air inside the balloon for lift. The other type is a hybrid balloon which uses hot air in the same way, but also has a compartment of helium or hydrogen gas in the top. A third kind is a pure gas balloon which doesn’t use hot air and its altitude can only be controlled by dropping ballast (another name for weight, usually in the form of a bag/container filled with water, sand, or iron), or venting the gas.

Hybrid and gas balloons have been used to set many long-distance ballooning records, as they require less fuel to stay airborne for extended periods of time. Pilots from all over the world compete in gas balloons for the famous International Gordon Bennett Cup—the world’s oldest and most prestigious gas balloon race. The race is named after James Gordon Bennett Jr., who founded the International Herald Tribune and was a great sponsor of air sports.

You can read about a fun Missouri hot air balloon-related fact here, and a big Missouri-based Balloon Race here.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.