Longview has again been awarded and will host the US National Hot Air Balloon Championship in 2023.
The national competition was previously held from 2012 to 2015 at the East Texas Regional Airport.
The Great Texas Balloon Race wrapped up Sunday as pilots and members of the balloon race team gathered to receive awards at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.
Driver Nick Donner won the race, while Rhett Heartsill took second and Johnny Petrehn finished third. Heartsill was also named the Texas State Champion.
In the American Young Guns Junior National Championship, the winner was Patrick Nilz, second place was Cameron Wall, and third place was Joe Seymour.
The Rudy Bresie award was given to two people: Gai Bennett and Jeanne Collins. Both were given street signs with their names on them.
Jayson Kimball, Andrew Holly, Steve Wilkinson, Branden Bloom, Josh Goll, Jonathan Wright and Scott Armstrong were named winners of Ducks on a Pond.
Also at the ceremony, Balloon Chair Michelle announced the selection of Longview as the host city for the US National Hot Air Balloon Championship.
The national competition will be held June 13-18, 2023, in conjunction with the Great Texas Balloon Race.
The race moved back inside the city this year for the first time in more than 30 years.
The event had been held at East Texas Regional Airport since 1990, but in 2021 competition flights were operated within the city while festival events were canceled due to related issues. to COVID-19.
Ford said everyone, including attendees including drivers, sponsors and others, seemed to be enjoying the event at its new location.
“I think it went well, very well,” she said. “It seems our community is thrilled to have him back in Longview. The morning flights still generated the energy we were hoping for, and our pilots are delighted. The sponsors seem happy that we are here, so we intend to stay.
She added that while the hiccups along the way were unavoidable, she felt good about how the event unfolded.
“Any time you make a change of this magnitude, there’s a learning curve, and so we’re definitely going to pull out some things that we’ll do better next year,” Ford said.