LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The Great Texas Balloon Race isn’t far away, and East Texans are no doubt anticipating all the fun that’s in store. While the floating shapes and live music lineup are a central focus, coordinators say there’s a group of people responsible for the event who also deserve the spotlight.
“The volunteers are absolutely one of the most key people of the event,” operations chairman Chris Farr said.
They often have 40 to 50 volunteers helping with prep work on a given day.
“Once we get closer to the event, those numbers can grow to 150," Farr said. "From ticket booths, to ground volunteers, to people running water and ice, we all work together.”
Farr says he’s been with the Great Texas Balloon Race since the early 2000s. While most people might think of the feats required to get the race off the ground, Farr says simple problem solving by volunteers keeps everything floating smoothly.
“Little things like, the air conditioners leak water. we utilize the grass clippings to soak up that water,” Farr said. "So we’ll bag up this grass and we’ll put it in those locations where the air conditioners are pouring our water.”
More than cleaning messes in tents, volunteers also have to work in the hot air, and not the kind from the balloons.
“It takes special individuals to get out here in the heat with a smile on their face and keep on going,” Farr said.
But it’s the hours of humble service that Farr says has made this race what it is for over 40 years.
“If it weren’t for the volunteers, it would be very difficult to put on the event at this size and magnitude,” he said.
Farr says they are still welcoming anyone who wants to volunteer for the event. He says the best way to get connected with their coordinators is go to Great Texas Balloon Race website.