Fuquay-Varina To No Longer Host Freedom Balloon Festival
Fleming Loop Park deemed not suitable to host the 2019 festival
PHOTO COURTESY OF MAUREEN CHURCHILL
On Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, the Town of Fuquay-Varina and Project Uplift USA mutually agreed that Fuquay-Varina will no longer host the Freedom Balloon Festival, a Memorial Day Weekend event dedicated to the memory of those in the military who died in service to their country, while also honoring the sacrifice of all active and veteran military families. Freedom Balloon Fest 2016, 2017 and 2018 were held at Fleming Loop Park, located in the heart of Fuquay-Varina.
The Town of Fuquay-Varina began renovating Fleming Loop Park last summer following Freedom Balloon Fest 2018. Unfortunately, two hurricanes and record rain through much of the second half of 2018 have led to several construction delays. It was determined by both parties that Fleming Loop Park would not be suitable to host the 2019 festival, as construction will have likely just wrapped up on a multimillion dollar re-development of Fleming Loop Park, and the new field turf will not yet be established in time for Memorial Day.
According to a statement released by Project Uplift USA, "The impact of foot traffic from 12,000-25,000 people per day and other required resources is very different than typical field sports events. Mother Nature just needs more time — a full growing season —for virgin sod to establish, settle and become more resilient."
In late December, after reviewing revised construction timetables, town and festival officials concluded that the site will simply not be ready for 20,000-plus patrons per day over Memorial Day weekend. Although the Town was prepared to fulfill its commitment under the Host City Agreement for the years 2020 and 2021, the Town of Fuquay-Varina agreed with Project Uplift USA that it would be best that they pursue other options moving forward. Lacking options for an alternate site in Fuquay-Varina, Project Uplift USA was left with no other option but to cancel its host community relationship with the town.
What does this mean for Freedom Balloon Fest 2019 at Fleming Loop Park? At the time this post was published, Project Uplift USA had not officially cancelled the 2019 Freedom Balloon Fest scheduled for Memorial Day weekend and the Freedom Balloon Festival Planning Team is currently brainstorming options.
We'll provide updates here as they become available.
Sources: freedomballoonfest.com, Town of Fuquay-Varina