Event History & More
The first balloon festival in Warren County was held at the annual Warren County Farmers' Fair, which boasts agricultural exhibits, carnival rides, entertainment, motorized events, like Demolition Derbies and Tractor Pulls. Visit the website at www.warrencountyfarmersfair.org.
Tethered Rides and special shape, Fred G Monster are two popular balloon attractions at the balloon festivals.
Depending on the time of year, between 15 - 25 balloons gather at the balloon festivals in Warren County, New Jersey.
Enjoy this video composed to record this historic event, by Skylight Communications.
How It Began
Here is a brief history of the Warren County Hot Air Balloon Festivals.
Note that with the exception of 2020 and/or Covid restrictions, the original event has and will be held at the Warren County Farmers' Fairgrounds, in Harmony Township, New Jersey, at the Warren County Farmers' Fair. The newer events are held at nearby Warren Community College, at the Washington, New Jersey, campus.
In 2001 a local balloon pilot, Fred Grotenhuis, approached the Fair about incorporating a Hot Air Balloon Festival at their County Fair. Fred, a life long resident of Harmony Township, NJ, had fond memories of the Fair when he was growing up. He thought that as ballooning was an exciting activity in the area, it would be a good draw to the Fair.
The first year there were about 15 balloonists that gathered, from Wednesday through Saturday. At the time the Fair ran from Monday to Saturday. Over the years the number of pilots began to grow and they also began to show up for informal flights on Monday and Tuesday. So it wasn't long before there were nightly balloon launches and the Balloon Festival was expanded to the 6 days of the Fair.
Then came the addition of Sunday. The first year Sunday was added to the end of the week. After that it moved to the beginning of the week, as many of the food vendors are run by non-profits and volunteers that take the week off work to help out. This way they would have a day to clean up and recoup a bit before returning to their daily work routines. In 2012, for the 75th anniversary of the Fair, and as everyone always found themselves at the Fair on Saturday anyway, they decided they should just open up on Saturday.
Today the Warren County Farmers' Fair runs from Saturday to Saturday, the week that August 1st falls within. The event is two events rolled into one -- a county fair and a hot air balloon festival. As a community event, organizers keep their admission prices reasonable.
Then came COVID-19, and that changed everything. About to celebrate the 20th year of the Balloon Festival at the Warren County Farmers' Fair, the Fair found itself in a position where it could not open it's gates. However, the organizer of the Balloon Festival worked hard with long time sponsor Warren Community College to bring the public a show at the college.
How It's Going
In 2020 we proudly presented the 20th annual Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Warren Community College, and returned to the Fairgrounds in 2021 for our 21st year. It wasn't easy, but with determination and cooperation we pulled it off. Read more here...
Two more festivals have since been added at Warren Community College - one in June and one in September!
At the end of 2022 Flying Festivals of Warren County was formed - a non profit that will continue to organize the balloon festivals and other events with the Warren Community College Foundation, and the Warren County Farmers' Fair Association.
In 2023 we welcome the addition of our new event, Area 57! This event will feature drone activities and other techie things. Designed to showcase the expansive and nationally acclaimed Drone, Robotics and AI program & labs at the College.
Be sure to mark your calendar for them all!