Carolina BalloonFest pilots and crew celebrate milestones and awards at annual awards brunch

Kim McKinney
Pilot Don Cline gets a quick launch off at Carolina BalloonFestPhoto by Kim McKinney

This was the 47th year for Carolina BalloonFest and after a two-year festival delay for COVID, pilot Don Cline was ready to continue his record of flying in every festival since the first.

Cline flew all six potential flight windows and participated in Saturday night’s balloon glow, less than a week after returning from Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta’s 50th anniversary.

Carolina BalloonFest is the second oldest balloon festival in the country, behind Fiesta. It began as a fun flying event for owners of balloons produced by The Balloon Works, the balloon factory that now is known as Firefly Balloons.
Left to right - Balloonmeister Vicki Fogue, Ryan Duff, David Litton, Tom Tomasetti, and Balloonmeister Patrick FoguePhoto by Kim McKinney

Competitionas were held during the weekend among the pilots, with winners presented at the event’s awards brunch.

Winners of the overall competition for the weekend were 1st place Ryan Duff, 2nd place local pilot and teacher David Litton, and 3rd place Tom Tomasetti.
Photo by Kim McKinney

This year a new award was established, the Amanda Rogerson Spirit Award. Amanda was a favorite of the local ballooning community, who died earlier this year at the age of 31. Known for her beaming smile, the award was established to recognize an individual who brings smiles to faces, lifts the spirits of those around them, and uplifts ballooning and the ballooning community during Carolina BalloonFest weekend.

Wayne McFarland, a crew member from Gordonsville, Virginia, was the winner of the 2022 Amanda Rogerson Spirit Award.

One person who nominated McFarland said “Wayne has a contagious excitement for all things hot air balloons. He is always ready and willing to help anyone with their balloons. His Facebook page ‘Carolina BalloonFest Friends’ provides lots of pictures and information that keeps Carolina BalloonFest on our minds all year long.”
Wayne McFarlane, winner of the Amanda Rogerson Spirit AwardPhoto by Kim McKinney

Another who nominated MacFarland said they did it for his love and support of Carolina BalloonFest.

“His FB page says it all - ‘Hot air balloon crew, enthusiast, future pilot-in-training, or just a guy seeking adventure.’”

Carolina BalloonFest is held the third weekend in October every year.

National Balloon Rally Charities, Inc. dba Carolina BalloonFest, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The charity invests proceeds from the event in the community through donations to other area non-profits.
The Grinch was in town a bit earlyPhoto by Kim McKinney

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I love stories of people and places and enjoy telling these stories. I live in my hometown of Statesville, NC, in the Charlotte area, and love to show how lovely life is here. More is going on than may meet the eye. I also enjoy expanding throughout North Carolina to show the places and activities and people that make me believe life is fascinating and travel as much as I can, so write about that, too. I also have a passion for justice and a special interest in accessible healthcare, including treatment for drug and alcohol dependency. I am a woman of faith, joy, laughter, adventure, and live life to the full. Follow me on Twitter at or my blog or

Statesville, NC

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