Artist Says 2020 Natchez Balloon Festival Inspired Winning Poster and T-Shirt Design – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

NATCHEZ – Natchez Balloon Festival 2021 poster and t-shirt artwork contest winner Debora Novarini says her first opportunity to attend the balloon festival was last year during a pandemic .

Although there were no carnival rides or concerts on the typical festival grounds outside of Rosalie, as there would be on a typical year, Novarini said she was amazed at the number of people who came to support the event anyway and saw nearly 30 balloons staggered across the Mademoiselle-Lou.

The balloons had their early morning flights and the festivities continued into the night with the glow of the balloons. It’s what inspired her winning t-shirt and poster design, which showcases the transition from “daydreaming to the nocturnal scene,” she said.

While last year was her first opportunity to attend the Natchez Balloon Festival, Novarini said that as a Long Beach native, she and her family have visited Natchez many times, so much so that the brother de Novarini ended up meeting his soul mate, Julia Fredrick, here. Their daughter and Novarini’s niece celebrated her first birthday under the balloons of the 2020 festival.

“Even with COVID and everything, we were still there to celebrate,” Novarini said. “It’s my Natchez connection. It has always been a place that has had some sort of special meaning for me.

With her sister-in-law’s family here, Novarini said she knows how special the balloon festival is, especially for those who live in Natchez. When told about the art competition, Novarini wanted to do a good job and make them proud, she said.

“We live in Houston now, but my sister-in-law’s whole family is still here. When she sent it to me, I knew I had to treat it right. I really have to think about it and make everyone proud. … I was really surprised (to win). Knowing that I was not from there, I did not know what my chances were. … I was super ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it.

Novarini studied graphic design at Mississippi State University and is now employed as a designer by Gensler, a global architecture firm.

She describes herself as a “huge nerd” with other interests in video games, comics, painting and crafts.

Carter Burns, Executive Director of the Natchez Historical Foundation, said, “The Hot Air Balloon Festival Committee was overwhelmed with the incredible submissions from many talented artists for the artwork competition, but this design stood out.

“We congratulate Debora on her winning submission and look forward to working with her on this year’s poster and t-shirt,” said Burns.

The Natchez Balloon Festival will be held October 15-17 at Rosalie’s Field in downtown Natchez. The music lineup for this year’s festival is expected to be announced early this week, Burns said.

More information about the Natchez Balloon Festival can be found at