Maryland’s Largest Balloon Festival to Highlight Harford County Agritourism
Now in its 7th year, the Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival is set to fly into Cedar Lane Regional Park, located in Bel Air from August 4-6, 2023.
“When we evaluated where the Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival should be, there really wasn’t any question that Harford County was the answer,” said Alex Spies (Founder of the Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival) “The value Harford places on preserving their agricultural heritage and support for agritourism was a natural fit with our mission. The support from Visit Harford, Harford Economic Development, Cedar Lane Sports Foundation and the ag community has been tremendous.”
Alex and Terri Spies, a 5th generation farm family, produce the balloon festival with childhood friend, Scott Powers. Scott’s grandfather farmed Indian Spring Farm in Harford County for 60 years and Alex’s great-great grandfather owned Rock Run Grist Mill. They say moving the festival to Harford County feels a bit like a homecoming. Together they are founding American Farm Foundation which will use events like the Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival to further its mission to better connect eaters with the source of their food, educate the public about agriculture, and promote food from local family farms.
“We endeavor to provide a fun experience with balloons and then weave in a bit of ag education as many people don’t know how to source food from local farmers,” said Scott Powers, co-owner of the Hot Air Balloon Festival. “New in 2023 the festival will offer local value-added farm products like honey, cheese, ice cream, beer, and wine. The timing in early August lends itself to promoting all the fall agritourism opportunities for families in Harford County from pumpkin patches and corn mazes to live music at farm breweries.”
There is nothing quite as serene as witnessing hot air balloons lift off through an early morning mist and float across farmhouses, fields, and unsuspecting fisherman. The Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival delivers an entire weekend family experience. There are photo opportunities like the after-dark balloon glow to make your Instagram followers jealous. Balloonists love to tell their balloon flight stories. Check flying in a hot air balloon off your bucket list with a tethered ride 50’ in the air.
“I’m excited to have our County host the Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival,” Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly said.
Hot air balloon pilots are highly skilled at reading the slightest variation in weather, which means part of the excitement is the anticipation of when conditions will be right to “stand up” the balloons. Meanwhile, there is lots to see and do to keep everyone in the family entertained, such as live music, shopping the Art Village for one-of-a-kind gifts from 50+ artists and crafters. Carefully curated food from chocolate dipped bacon to shrimp ceviche, and brisket with collards to farmed oysters on the half. Buy beer from local farm breweries. Don’t forget to bring the kids for face painting, kid’s crafts, bouncy houses, and plenty of room to just run around.
In honor of Harford’s 250th Celebration, tickets will be offered at a special price of $20.00 per day thru Saturday, March 25th. Kids 12 and under are free. There will be limited onsite paid parking.
There are many special announcements to come including entertainment, ticket sales, parking, hours, and some special partnerships. To find the most updated information or to apply for artists, vendors, and sponsors, log onto www.ChesapeakeBayBalloonFestival.com or www.VisitHarford.com/events. Follow us on Facebook @chesbayballoon.