Every year, the last weekend in July, the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning rolls into my town. This hot air balloon festival attracts people from all over the country. It’s held at a local airport that is less than a mile from my house. For 31 years, people have been celebrating it, and for 24 years, I have had a love-hate relationship with it. As a kid, my family and I would watch the balloons for three mornings and three nights, watch the fireworks, listen to the bands from our front lawn, all that stuff. It was cool because the treeline was so low and you could see all the balloons. When you’re little, it’s mesmerizing. As I’ve gotten older and the festival has gained popularity, I’ve become frustrated that I have to deal with tourists driving through my farm town trying to find the festival as I’m trying to get places. You can’t see as many balloons because the trees have gotten so big. The traffic doubles on my street (even though we have a cul-de-sac and you can’t get anywhere). Helicopters fly nonstop over my house for days. Maybe I’m a little intolerant, but those are things I’m just not crazy about. It is kind of cool when the balloons go over our house, and my family always has a party so it’s fun to see people this particular weekend. In the past few years, I’ve been more interested in the bands, so I find reason to stick around (though last year I bailed…for whatever reason, I saw a chance to do something else for the weekend so I did). There were several news stations there this morning, which I guess they are every year. Governor Christie just about it tweeted it, among other people, and it’s in every newspaper, so I’m never really surprised when the crowds grow every year as long as the weather is nice. I expect Sunday to be more crowded than usual, seeing as Big & Rich will be there and it’s probably the biggest name concert they’ve had that I can think of. I did actually go two years ago to see the Barenaked Ladies, which was actually quite fantastic, despite taking over an hour to get home when I literally live two minutes away. BNL though, they loved it. And they are hilarious. I can’t say balloons without saying it the way they did…ba-looooons. But anywho. I’m going to avoid driving for the next three days because being a local so close the airport brings out the impatient Jerseyan in me. Hooray for ba-looooons.