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Iowa History Daily: Up & Away at the National Balloon Classic

Iowa History Daily: On August 4, 1989, balloons took to the sky as the National Balloon Classic debuted in Indianola. A replacement to the United States National Hot Air Balloon Championship which previously held primaries in Indianola and finals at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand starting in 1970, the National Balloon Classic represents an iconic Iowa summer tradition.

In 1970, Don Kersten of Fort Dodge, the acting President of the newly founded Balloon Federation of America, as well as inventor of the modern hot air balloon Ed Yost (originally of Bristow, Iowa) sought to bring the national championship for hot air ballooning to the Iowa State Fair. The preliminary competition proved too large, so Simpson College in Indianola agreed to host the preliminaries.

An immediate hit with locals and fair-goers, the preliminaries and championships drew large crowds throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Local exhibits grew into the National Balloon Museum by 1975, and a permanent museum opened in 1988. However, when Ballooning Federation of America leaders decided to move the contest to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1989, locals stepped up to keep ballooning in Indianola with the creation of the National Balloon Classic.

Today, Iowans and visitors alike enjoy seeing the balloons take to the sky each August. Additionally, visitors enjoy visiting the United States Ballooning Hall of Fame located at the National Balloon Museum in Indianola. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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