40th Walla Walla Balloon Stampede

As summer approaches, one of the signature events signaling the start of the community event season is the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede, this year that event celebrates it's 40th Anniversary.

Balloon Stampede producer Scott Spencer said it all started when Whitman College invited a balloon from Colorado to fly at a pep rally.

"Two local guys Bill Loyd and Nate Vail saw this balloon the very excited about it and interested in ballooning and bought their own," said Spencer.

He said the first Walla Walla Balloon Stampede 40 years ago had two balloons, the second had 4, and the event took flight from there.

"The first stampede was held in a wheat field outside Prescott Washington and that's how it all began," said Spencer.

He said  this is the second oldest balloon event in the country, and the oldest west of the Mississippi.

Scott was a part of the third stampede.

He said he thought it was a big event 37 years ago.

"I thought it was like performing at the super bowl at that point in time and it felt likes we were rock stars, us balloon guys making this flight and people getting up to watch us do this," said Spencer.

He said the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede starts the ballooning season, and there is a good reason this event has been around for 40 years.

"This town is very loyal to its pilots and kind to its pilots, and that's pretty good motivation to come back and want to come back and start our flying season here in Walla Walla," said Spencer.

Co-producer Laurie Spencer said one of her faviroite things is the look on people's faces when they see balloons for the first time.

She said it trasends people to the childhood where they are learning about somthing they have only seen in ther imiganiation.

"They stand there is awe of something that it so beautiful, so colorful and so big floating through the air. It's like when you are a child and your imagination takes over in a story that you are reading," said Spencer.