Balloon Fest

A number of balloons flicker for the Balloon Glow show in August 2014.


The Balloon Fest is an annual tourism attraction held in Centralia’s Foundation Park. The three-day event began in 1991. It is held during the third weekend in August every year. More than 40 hot air balloons descend upon the park, including several special-shaped balloons like Darth Vader, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Pepsi cans. The balloonists also participate in races, Balloon Glows and other activities.

Since 2012, I have taken several pictures of the weekend festival. for the Centralia Morning Sentinel. Here is a gallery of past Balloon Fests as well as some of the behind-the-scenes stories of the event.

Balloon Glow is a popular evening festivity. Here several balloons ignite to light up Foundation Park during the 2013 Balloon Fest.

Balloon Fest spectators watch the night sky light up during the Balloon Glow on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2012. Published: Centralia Sentinel.

Printed version of special section published Aug. 15, 2015. All photos by Leah Williams.

All Photos by Leah Williams for the Centralia Morning Sentinel

Sentinel Photo/LEAH WILLIAMS
SAY BALLOON FEST – Jamie Keller, LEFT, of Du Quoin snaps a picture of her 6-year-old daughter Katelyn peeking through the Balloon Fest Idol character during the annual event in August 2013. The festival includes live music, a children’s activity area and many other family-friendly activities

My son Matt and the Darth Vader balloon. 2015. The Force is strong.

The Balloon Fest Balloon Glow in August 2012 featured an array of games and fun activities, including a dance along with the balloons to the Village People tune “Y.M.C.A..”

Balloon Glow 2015

Balloons take to the skies from Foundation Park during the 2015 Balloon Fest.

Balloon Fest race 2015

Balloon Fest race 2012