Racers getting ready for the Hespero Balloon Race. (Photo by Sheri Skocdopole Photography)

Racers getting ready for the Hespero Balloon Race. (Photo by Sheri Skocdopole Photography)

Hot air balloons over Eckville

Eckville residents may have done a double take during the long weekend when they saw several bright objects in the sky.

Sheri and Cliff Skocdopole hosted their annual Hespero Balloon Race from their property over the weekend. The couple has a private airstrip. Seventeen hot air balloons came out for this year’s event and the Skocdopoles operate the balloon with the photo of the northern lights on it.

“We call our balloon team the Hespero Hot Air Team,” explained Sheri. “The name of the balloon is Northern Flights and the photo was take by me, of the northern lights over my husband’s grandparents’ farm near Evergreen.”

Sheri, who operates Sheri Skocdopole Photography, explained that this year’s fun competition consisted of two hare and hound races. She said the first balloon is the hare and when they launch and are in the air, the other balloons can start to inflate. After 10 minutes, the other balloons can launch and the hare, the first balloon, will land somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes into their flight. When they land, the passengers in the hare balloon will lay out a target, an ‘X’ that’s about 30 feet wide. The pilot in each balloon carries a marker, which is a bean bag with a fabric tail on it. The goal is for the balloon pilot to follow the flight path of the first balloon and throw their marker as close to the centre of the ‘X’ as they can. The marker that’s closest to the centre of the target is the winner for that competition.

“We had two of those this past weekend,” Sheri said of the hare and hound race. “The combined scores of the pilots were added up to determine who would win the Hespero Balloon Race.”

Sheri said the Hespero Balloon Race is held every September long weekend.