“Combining these two events will give fans more activities for the families and it is a great opportunity to host the pilots visiting Kilgore,” says Mary Ramos, who serves on the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce board and chairs the Tourism Advisory Council. “The pilots will get to see a great baseball game and the fans will get to meet the pilots.” She added.
Gai Bennett, spokeswoman for the Great Texas Balloon Race, which is hosting its third of four years of the Balloon Federation of America’s U.S. National Balloon Championship, praised the change. “Kilgore has been a wonderful host for our Wednesday night balloon activities for the last two years. We are so excited about the new twist they’ve come up with for this year,” Bennett said. “Combining Pump Jacks baseball and hot-air balloons is going to be great fun for the whole family. This will really enhance both events,” she said.
Mike Lieberman, General Manager & Co-Owner of the East Texas Pump Jacks shared the excitement, "The Pump Jacks couldn't be more excited to be a part of this event and the Great Texas Balloon Race. The marriage of Pump Jacks baseball with the balloon burn makes both events that much better for everyone involved. We can't wait!”
A Facebook page for this year’s event, named “Baseball, Balloons & Root Beer,” was launched Tuesday, and within the first 24 hours gained more than 140 likes. The 2013 Great Texas Balloon Race brought in at least $884,227 to East Texas, according to an economic impact study. Of that, $449,020 went to local restaurants, bars and food vendors; $292,055 to local lodging providers; and $143,152 to retail stores. The festival draw about 9,000 out-of-town visitors, who were a majority of the about 12,600 attendees.
More details will be added to the Facebook page as they develop.