Great Texas Balloon Race is a world class competition attracting the best pilots from across the world. It is a Balloon Federation of America event and one of the most important big balloon events in Texas, and is included in top-20 list of hot air balloon festivals in the U.S.
Great Texas Balloon Race is a three-day festival held every July at the East Texas Regional Airport field outside Longview. Due to this race, Longview earned the title of "The Balloon Capital of Texas" granted in 1985. Every summer about 50 balloonists participate in the exciting competition. Other entertainment activities include live concerts, balloon tours and flights. Balloon Glows will entertain spectators every night with a great display of color and excitement. Specially shaped balloons that look like Darth Vader, Master Yoda, Tall Steve, Claw’d and Neptuno will be at various locations in Longview.
Everyone can get up close and watch how balloons are inflated and operated. Dozens of vendors display their arts, crafts and other merchandise in booths lined up along an improvised midway. Kids Land is a restricted area for children that requires to pay a small entry fee. Activities and attractions differ from year to year but it is always a fun time.
The Great Texas Balloon Race was first held in 1978, and it appeared after much efforts of Dr. Bill Bussey, D.D.S., a world-record hot air balloon pilot, and Frankie Parson Riggins and Mary LeTourneau, Longview Mall managers.