Advanced tickets for the Great Texas Balloon Race go on sale today at Brookshire’s Grocery Stores and Super 1 Foods across the region.
“You can buy a ticket for Friday or Saturday night’s events,” said Gai Bennett, spokeswoman for the annual weeklong ballooning event that lifts off July 28 and features concerts and a balloon glow Aug. 1 and 2.
Advance tickets are $12 for all attendees older than 12. Tickets at the gate are $15, Bennett said.
Country singer Roger Creager is set to perform Aug. 1, and fellow country artist Tracy Lawrence will take the stage Aug. 2.
The Great Texas Balloon Race began in Longview in 1978 when Longview Mall managers Frankie Parson Riggins and Mary LeTourneau cut a deal with Bill Bussey, a world-record hot air balloon pilot, to fly over Longview with a banner advertising the mall’s opening.
The event, which also is in its third of four years hosting the Balloon Federation of America’s U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship, is a major boon for the area economy.
According to a first-time study conducted this past year by the Longview Chamber of Commerce, the total economic impact of the 2013 race was $884,227. Of that, $449,020 went to local restaurants, bars and food vendors; $292,055 to local lodging providers; and $143,152 to retail stores.
Tickets also are available online at outhousetickets.com/Venue/Great_Texas_Balloon_Race.
In addition to purchasing daily tickets, the website offers a weekend pass that covers both days for $20.
The weekend shows will also include a balloon glow, an attraction created in Longview where tethered balloons are illuminated.
In 2013, more than 9,000 out-of-town visitors came to Longview for the Great Texas Balloon Race, making up a majority of the roughly 12,600 attendees at the festival.
The national event, which will begin with a practice over Longview on July 28 and continue with competitive races July 29 to Aug. 3, will have more than 70 pilots, according to the Great Texas Balloon Race website.