Thousands of people descend upon Northpark each year for the Balloon Glow in Ridgeland.
Thousands of people descend upon Northpark each year for the Balloon Glow in Ridgeland.
One of Madison County’s best Fourth of July weekend traditions is set to return for the 34th year. The 2019 Mississippi Championship Hot Air Balloon Fest is set for July 4 through July 7 in Canton and Ridgeland.

The event will include more than 25 balloons from across the country and begins Thursday with the Celebrate America Balloon Glow from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Northpark in Ridgeland. The balloonists will showcase intricate routes for patrons, followed by music. Country star Phil Vassar is scheduled to perform, along with Brandon-based band Burnham Road, among others.

Vendors will be serving barbecue, chicken-on-a-stick, funnel cakes, and more throughout the evening. Children’s obstacle courses, space jumps, and face painting will also be available. The event is set to conclude with a 9:30 p.m. fireworks show. Admission is free.

“It’s always a festive atmosphere and you can tell everyone is having a great time,” Ridgeland Alderman At-Large D.I. Smith said. “It’s great getting to live in a community where there is community.”

Smith has attended the Balloon Glow since 1990 and has volunteered to join a balloon crew several times. Ever the avid cyclist, Smith said he again plans to ride in the Balloon Chase Bike Ride, scheduled for 7 a.m. Saturday at the Canton Multipurpose Center.

"I think it’s very important that we stop every so often and think about the meaning of all of this,” He said. “...what it means that we were born in America and to experience the freedoms and opportunities that we have.”

The celebration is set to continue Friday night on Canton’s Historic Square, where Southern Outdoors is hosting its first steak and barbeque competition starting at 6 p.m. Prizes include $1,000 for the best steak and $200 for the best wings. Patrons can enjoy shopping, food, and balloons on the square while listening to the band Trademark perform live.

As Canton Tourism director Jana Dear explained, bringing people to the square and making an impression is always a priority.
“(The festival) gives us four straight days to show true Mississippi hospitality and show how wonderful the city of Canton is,” Dear said.

After the competition flight and accompanying bike ride Saturday morning, the Balloon Chase Run/Walk and kids one-mile fun run will begin at 6 p.m., also at the Canton Multipurpose Center. Registration is set to open one hour prior to the event. 

Another Balloon glow is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with country/rock band DirtRoad Cadillac set to perform. A 9:15 p.m. fireworks show will cap the evening. 

For more information on the 2019 festival, visit CantonTourism.com.