Live music, arts and crafts, a beer garden, carnival and, of course, hot air balloons will be some of the highlights of this year’s Natchez Ballon Festival.
Now in its 36th year, this year’s three-day event will run Friday through Sunday, October 15-17, on the grounds of the historic Rosalie Mansion in Natchez. According to organizers, the Natchez Balloon Festival (NBF) committee has been “working tirelessly” to plan the events for a fun and exciting festival weekend, while keeping a close eye on the pandemic.
“We are aware of the increasing number of COVID cases and take this into account when planning these events,” said Scott Adams, director of the NBF. “We keep the health and safety of our sponsors, pilots, volunteers, partners, festival-goers and the community at the top of our priorities. We will certainly implement protocols and guidelines to provide a safe environment. All of our events are held outdoors, which we believe provides a safe environment to keep the festival going,” he added.
The festival weekend kicks off on Friday, October 15 with the festival’s favorite ‘light balloon’ on Rosalie Cliff at dusk, followed by fireworks over the river. It will continue Saturday and Sunday with live music, crafts, Biergarten, carnival and hot air balloons (weather permitting).
The Natchez Balloon Festival was founded in 1986 as a fundraiser for the Natchez Historical Foundation.
The first year consisted of a few balloons taking off behind the Natchez Mall. The following year, a festival was added to the event, and the location was changed to Rosalie, a mansion on the cliff overlooking the Mississippi River that still houses the event today. Over time, more attractions were added to the festival and it is now the largest annual event in southwest Mississippi.
Headlining this year’s music lineup will be Grammy-nominated blues musician Cristone “Kingfish” Ingram.
Hailing from Clarksdale, Ingram’s debut album “Kingfish” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart in 2019. In 2020, Ingram won five Blues Music Awards, including Album of the Year, The Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, Top Emerging Artist. album, contemporary blues male artist of the year and coveted best guitarist award. It also won four Living Blues Awards, including Album of the Year and Artist of the Year.
Next, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. For over 30 years they have been the classic American blues band. Their top hits include “Tuff Enuff” and “Wrap It Up”. Hailing from New Orleans, fiery soul, slick hip-hop, deep-groove R&B and subtle jazz five-piece band Tank and the Bangas, original new age soul band J & the Causeways, legend of blues Natchez YZ Ealey, the unforgettable style diversity of Jamell Richardson and the country blues sounds of Matt Willis.
Adams said the FBN committee will continue to monitor the increase in COVID-19 cases. All updates will be posted on the festival website at www.nathchezballoonfestival.com, Facebook and Instagram.
For more information about the Natchez Balloon Festival and to purchase tickets, please visit www.natchezballoonfestival.com. Tickets are on sale now.