NJ Festival of Ballooning
In 1983, Bill Lewis working with people from, brought approximately ten hot air balloons to the Union 76 Truck Stop on Interstate 78 in New Jersey for the inaugural event. After two years they moved the festival to its current site at Solberg Airport where it grew to 40-50 balloons and 30, 000-40, 000 attendees.
In 1993, Howard Freeman and John Korff acquired the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning and signed a long term deal with Solberg Airport. That same year they secured a long term sponsorship agreement with Quick Chek Food Stores. In time, the festival has become the largest event in New Jersey and the largest summertime balloon festival in North America.
Korff and Freeman, whose only previous experience with balloons was watching the movie "The Wizard of Oz, " decided to attend the Thunderbird Balloon Classic in Arizona to see what the "hot air" was all about. Both entrepreneurs were immediately impressed by the amount of traffic and the number of people who appeared "spellbound" by the sight of dozens of hot air balloons in the sky.
In that time, Freeman and Korff have grown the festival not only into the largest event in New Jersey, but into the largest summertime balloon festival in North America. Now, backed by more than fifty corporate partners, including title sponsor Quick Chek Food Stores, the festival has grown in stature both nationally and internationally. Recently the festival was designated for the fifth time as one of the top one hundred events in North America by the American Bus Association and also was the recipient of the Governor's award for the Best Special Event in New Jersey.
In 2000, to differentiate the festival from other balloon festivals, major concerts were added to the festival. The first concert presented the legendary band, The Beach Boys. Each subsequent festival included three major concerts. Headliners have included The Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, Styx, Foreigner, America, Jonas Brothers and KC & the Sunshine Band.
This year's 31st Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning will attract more than 175, 000 people from all over the United States. In fact, the festival is only 35 miles from New York City, Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; 30 miles from Newark and 25 miles from Trenton.
While the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is designed to offer fun for people of all ages, Freeman and Korff have also dedicated their efforts, through the festival, to helping the community. A portion of all proceeds from the festival are donated to the Children's Miracle Network, which funds three pediatric hospitals in New Jersey. Last year, more than $175, 000 was raised by the festival for local charities bringing the total contribution for the 19 years of Freeman and Korff's management to over 2 million dollars returned to local and regional non-profits.
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