After the devastating floods in 2013 across southern Alberta, many small towns were left with little visitors to the area.

Jamie Kinghorn, a local pilot, decided (with the help of a few friends) to change that by creating the High River Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival. Serving as the event organizer, Kinghorn’s event ended up drawing over 5,000 people.

High River Baloon Glow from MRU Journalism on Vimeo.

“I called up some buddies of mine and said, ‘Hey, our towns pretty down, pretty quiet around High River. Do you guys mind coming up here and doing a little bit of a balloon glow and some flying for the folks?’” says Kinghorn. “Everybody said, ‘For sure, we will.’”

The first event was such a success for the town that it’s continued on for six years with most of the same pilots coming back every year. Paul Burros is one of those original pilots, travelling to rural Alberta from Cambridge, England for the festival.

Hot Air BalloonHot air balloons are inflated on their side then lifted upright when the crews lift the basket up. Photo by Casey Richardson.

“I come from a part of Somerset, England, that was devastated by flooding the year before High River was, and I met Jamie [Kinghorn] while I was in the Philippines. He told me the story, and we wanted to come out and help High River rebuild,” says Burros.

Over 20 balloons were part of the festival this year, which ran from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 and Kinghorn hopes to see that number grow as the festival continues.

Editor: Tatianna Ducklow |

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