September is a busy month for the town of High River.

Besides the kids heading back to school, there's the Brian Chipchase Memorial Show and Shine there's the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival.

Organizer Jamie Kinghorn says there'll be plenty of reasons to look skyward.

"We have 31 balloons confirmed to participate in this High River event this year, of course that's barring unforeseen circumstances but that's how many are registered and we're expecting all of them to be in High River."

"A lot of them are similar to what we had last year but we have, I believe six or eight new pilots coming that have never flown in High River before so we're really excited to be hosting them," he says.

They're coming from England, Belgium, the Netherlands, the U.S. and across Canada.

"Lots of guys, they get here and look around and go 'wow,' they can't believe how big are fields are and really how gracious our landowners are and how receptive they are to the balloons landing in their fields so they're all excited to come up, High River has a really good reputation in the ballooning community and we just want to carry that on."

As for the smoke from wildfires, Kinghorn says that shouldn't be an issue.

"We have visibility laws in place, like airplanes, you have to be able to see five kilometres, and we don't have any issue with that, even when we had the heavy smoke, we still had that five kilometres visibility so while it's not fun to fly in and it stinks and it's hard to breathe and all that stuff we'll be able to fly legally."

The festival kicks off Wednesday, September 27, and continues to Sunday, October 1 with the Balloon Glow set for Friday, September 29 in Wallaceville.

"We've already got the plans in place with our emergency management team, where we'll be closing centre street at the Tim's again and at the south end at the bridge. We're working with Boys and Girls Club (now BGC) and the Ag society to provide parking at both ends of town and Southland Transportation, they're going to bring in the buses again so we'll be able to transport people from both north and south right into the site."

Kinghorn says it was very well received last year with only a few scrapes and bumps and bruises but Emergency Services was happy with how it all went.

He says there are some new, unique balloon shapes heading to town for the event with an announcement on those in the next couple of weeks.


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