PINE MOUNTAIN, GA (WTVM) - Saturday morning got off to a windy start at Callaway Gardens but as the sun rose, so did the main attractions at the 18th Annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival.
After waiting almost two hours for the wind to die down, several teams of handlers pulled out their equipment, warmed up the balloons, and opened the line for an eager crowd waiting to fly over the Chattahoochee Valley.
For most of the people waiting in line, this was their first ride hot air balloon ride.
First-time rider Susan Forte, 72, said she wanted to experience the breathtaking flight with her family.
"Just freedom, just the wind, and the excitement and being able to actually see what we're standing on," Forte said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
The balloons weren't the only attraction at the Gardens.
Don and Sherry Kessel made the trip to the Festival's Auto Show all the way from Florida, just barely beating the path of Tropical Storm Hermine.
The travelling couple says they'll be back in Pine Mountain to see more cars and meet even more welcoming faces.
"It's a car show, and it's a balloon rising, but that's not what it's about," Don said. "It's about the people, beautiful people we met."
"That's for sure," Sherry added.
Finally, a concert on the beach, a specialty balloon that stands about 130 feet tall when fully inflated, and a fireworks extravaganza capped off a full day at the festival.
If you missed the chance to ride in a hot air balloon on Saturday, volunteers say rides will be available until Sunday night at Callaway Gardens.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Click here for more information.