Balloon Fest named Alabama’s 2021 Event of the Year

Balloon Fest named Alabama’s 2021 Event of the Year
Wolf Bay is presenting sponsor, Tara McMeans is poster winner

The Alabama Tourism Department recognized the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce sponsored Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival as its Event of the Year during the 2021 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism at The Gulf State Park Lodge earlier this month.
Event director Rachel Spear and Tommy Rachel, balloon pilot and event founder, accepted the award. “For the past 7 years of working with the South Baldwin Chamber’s Event team, I have watched the festival morph and grow into what it is today. Nothing in my career has been more satisfying than seeing the smiles on visitors’ faces as they watch hot air balloons inflate all around them,’’ Spear said.
This year, the fest is partnering with Wolf Bay Restaurants as the presenting sponsor. Wolf Bay Restaurants have been a staple in the South Baldwin Community since 1973 and a regular fixture at the balloon festival during the years, catering to our VIP guests and serving up fried shrimp from their food truck to festival-goers.
The 2022 Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival poster winner is the talented artist Tara McMeans of Gulf Shores. Tara owns and operates Design Print Promote and has been a long-time partner with the South Baldwin Chamber and the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival (GCHABF). Her artwork has been chosen several times in previous years to be the official design of the event. Her pop-art inspired poster design features bold colors and identifiable graphics that immediately grab your attention and will make a great piece of wearable art.
The 18th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival three-day event is on the calendar for May 12-14. The festival kicks off on Thursday evening, May 12 from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. with live entertainment, vendors, and a balloon glow (wind and weather permitting). The excitement continues on Friday, May 13 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday, May 14 from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. More than 50 hot air balloons and pilots will join us in Foley for a magical weekend of fun.
The family-friendly event has activities for everyone. Festival admission is free with select activities available for an additional charge. Guests can enjoy the expansive amenities at OWA Parks & Resort; including various restaurants, unique retail shopping choices, a variety of entertainment attractions, and of course, The Park at OWA – its themed amusement park with more than 20 rides and attractions to experience. Traditional festival activities will also be featured throughout the property during the weekend featuring children’s activities, artesian and food vendors, live music, and (wind and weather permitting) tethered balloon rides, balloon glows, and balloons in flight! The 2021 event recorded significant growth with the festival location moving to OWA. The GCHABF committee is eagerly preparing for an even bigger and better festival in 2022. More info: or Pictured: (Above) Tommy Rachel, Donna Watts, Rachel Spear, Candice Martinez, Kylee Raulerson, and Mayor Ralph Hellmich; (Below) Tara McMeans.