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The Poteau Balloon Festival: A Kaleidoscope of Color

Updated on December 12, 2017

The Poteau Balloon Festival is one of southeast Oklahoma’s most spectacular events. Every year, the blue skies over Poteau become transformed into a vast kaleidoscope of colors. Hundreds of people gather from all over the U.S. to take part in the festivities, and not one of them ever leave disappointed.

The first event, held in the fall of 2005, was a fantastic success. Since then, the annual tradition has grown to become one of Oklahoma’s premier events.

In 2011, promotion of the Poteau Balloon Festival was taken over by the Poteau Chamber of Commerce. Prior to 2011, the event was handled by Poteau resident and local business owner Traci Barnes. Her dedication and attention to detail has laid the foundations of an event that only grows bigger and better with each passing year. The Poteau Balloon Festival wouldn’t be the amazing event it is today without her.

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The Main Event

Each October, a plethora of hot air balloons seemingly engulf the historic city of Poteau. Throughout the multi-day event, they can be seen lazily wafting through the sky or standing like sentinels saluting one another. Hundreds of colors and patterns dazzle the eye as these brilliant balloons are displayed for all to see.

While this in itself is a spectacular sight to see, perhaps the most eye dazzling display begins around dusk. As the sun fades below the horizon, the balloons line up to begin a complex display of light and skill.

Called a "Balloon Glow", the balloon operators use the propane gas to light up the insides of the balloons as if they were ready to take flight. Instead of allowing the balloons to become airborne, they are anchored to the ground. By coordinating the propane thrusts, balloon operators are able to create complex light shows.

Visitors to the Poteau Balloon Festival will also have the opportunity to take hot air balloon rides, as well as enjoy the many other festivities going on in the area.

More than just Balloons

A festival wouldn't be a festival without a lot of, well, festivities. The Poteau Balloon Fest is no exception. Musicians from around the area gather to provide great entertainment for the first-class event, including Hillbilly Vegas & The Kentucky Headhunters.

Besides the concerts, visitors to the Poteau Balloon Festival will have many fun things to do. The Fun Times Carnival offers several fair rides for people to enjoy, or get a little more adventurous and take a ride in a helicopter.

Several shows have been planned as well. The Fort Smith Flightmasters will make an appearance, and visitors can smile in delight as America's best Frisbee Dogs try to steal the spotlight. Visitors will get a thrill watching the Hill & Hole Mud Pit Race, or feel the adrenaline rush as the Mean Machine Monster Truck rolls into town.

A markerHighway 271 South, Poteau, OK 74953 -
U.S. 271, Poteau, OK 74953, USA
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    • Mr. Helper profile image

      Mr. Helper 6 years ago

      Great article! I always enjoyed going to the balloon festivals when I was a kid.

    • tamarindcandy profile image

      tamarindcandy 6 years ago

      I love the pictures, so pretty.