Pumpkins Up, Balloons Down at Long Branch

Long Branch Historic House and Farm in Boyce, Virginia has decided to do away with its annual fall hot air balloon festival. The colorful balloons will instead be replaced by flying pumpkins.

Angela Anderson, Long Branch’s interim executive director, asked permission from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to modify Long Branch’s fall festival special use permit to include “punkin’ chunkin’” in place of hot air balloons. According to the Long Branch website, the festival will also include kite flying, crafters, wine tasting, and music.

The Supervisors asked about the methods used for propelling the pumpkins (man-made machines the first year with no use of chemical or pneumatic machines); whether the pumpkins contained anything other than organic materials (the pumpkins will not contain chemicals); how the smashed pumpkin pulp will be removed (natural decay ); and whether the flying pumpkins will traverse other people’s property in flight (no).

Anderson told the Supervisors that Long Branch hopes to enlist local scouting troops, clubs, and community groups to enter punkin’ chunkin’ machines in the future as the event becomes better known.

Anderson said that the great pumpkin plans will not change the scope or attendance conditions outlined in the previously approved special use permit for the event.

No reason was stated for the change from balloons to pumpkins. However, poor weather conditions have caused difficulties for staging the balloons in the past. Local property owners have also been vocal about concerns over noise and traffic associated with the event.

There was no discussion about the impacts on County tourism, if any, associated with the change.

The Supervisors unanimously approved the special use permit change.

Long Branch Historic House and Farm’s Fall Festival is scheduled for October 12, 13 and 14.

Comments

  1. Right Winger says:

    PUNKIN CHUNKIN!!!!! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
    It will have to be mechanical only. Those pneumatic ones can shoot a mile!

  2. Because I Care says:

    What a shame. The balloons were so beautiful and calming. At least to most humans.

  3. Mr Mister says:

    I bet the attendance will be cut in half.

  4. wrightwho says:

    VERY disappointed…

  5. Wow, what a shame, Clarke County has a black cloud hanging over it, seems like.

  6. Lonnie Bishop says:

    Hmmm…from something really cool, to a poor-man’s version of that show on Discovery Channel at Thanksgiving. Somehow…wine and punkin’ chunkin’ just don’t go together. Hope it works out alright…the supervisors silly questions notwithstandin.

  7. This is truly a disappointment. I understand that all things must change, but the balloons have been such an integral part of this festival. It will be hard to replace the beauty and grandeur of hot air balloons with flying pumpkins.

  8. Kathleen says:

    What a bummer! That was the annual event that brought all my friends from the greater Washington Metropolitan Area to visit, many of whom believed the doubling of the wine tasting fees were not worth it. Please bring back the balloons even if they are tethered. They create a splendid backdrop!

  9. The ballons were the coolest part of the event. Think I’ll find something else to do this year. Hopefully they’ll reconsider

  10. Clarke County Annie says:

    According to the Long Branch website, the festival will also include kite flying, crafters, wine tasting and music. Then, adding as a special delight for all…”Punkin’ Chunkin’”

    Are you kidding? I have to agree that attendance will be lowered. And, I can’t see checking for color, clarity, swirling, smelling, then aerating the wine onto my palate while someone yells, “Yeehaw, did you see how far that bee with an itch flew!” Totally different spectrum of people. I can’t even fathom what music will “fit” in this situation.

    But, who knows? Maybe this type of program will bring even more stimulus to the county. Sorry, not me, think I have something else going on that weekend.

  11. Harrdware says:

    The balloons were the attraction. No need to put the traffic cones out on Rt 50 for this event anymore, I’m afraid. The tourists will be staying home.

  12. All because some uppity gentry folk got peeved that some reckless balloonists spooked a horse or two…sad…

    This county is all about “save the rural landscape, save the bucolic scenery”…yet…here’s an event especially designed to show off just those sorts of things and a few grumpy rich folks finally get their way and nix the main draw of the event. Punkin chunkin only works if you can bring in the big boys that have a range of 3,500+ feet…chicks dig the long ball, ya know?

  13. supportn Clarke says:

    Seems like a good choice since the past couple of years it was too windy to launch the balloons. It was still a good time with all the activities, vendors and beautiful location. I’m sure with solid community support and more opportunities for local organizations to participate Long Branch’s tradition will continue (and do well!)

    Clarke’s a great location – easy to access from everywhere:)

    Besides… change CAN be good!

  14. Reality Bites says:

    Sounds like more PC thinking run amuck saving people from themselves. In its heyday, the balloon festival was an outstanding tradition/attraction that we eagerly looked forward to every year and at which we spent a good deal of money because we enjoyed it so. Since they grounded the balloons we have stopped attending.

  15. And somehow watching pumpkins take flight at night just doesn’t have the same feeling…. Unless they are flaming pumpkins….

  16. It is the Weather says:

    Been going for years, often a couple of times each year for work, but have not seen a balloon launch yet. Weather is always too bad (windy or rainy) for the balloons.

    Highlight for our family has been the fall weather, maples turning color, and Nalls outstanding pumpkin display.

  17. CC Transplant. says:

    This is truly a sad thing. I remember when I first moved to CC, one morning I heard some strange noises outside, I went out to see hot air balloons landing in the fields around my house. I thought COOL!!! It made me feel even better about the choice to move to Clarke county and living in the country it was truly a special thing. In the past 10 years I have lived in CC I have learnt a lot about living in a small community or at least this one… Outsiders are not welcome, the rich rule and only the ones that were born here can have an opinion or a say in anything.
    I have plans on possibly selling my home and leaving the county hopefully in the coming year. I’m engage to be married to a woman that lives in Winchester and she refuses to move to Clarke County because of the way the people are here in CC, because of how the government and school system is run and because of the constant drama and mismanagement with the BOS, the school board and the taxes. I can’t blame her…
    The deletion of the balloons from the balloon festival because of the folks with $$$ complaining the balloons frighten their horses is just another example how those with $$$ rule this county…

  18. My 2 Cents says:

    Sad, I have been seeing this for 35 yrs transplant. Why do u think the same people are elected every year…[redacted]

  19. Had to see it to believe it says:

    Last year was the first time a balloon landed by my house. Now I see why people say they do not want them landing by livestock. Our horses went nuts. To the point where I asked the guy to take off again and land somewhere else. So on a rant now if I walk into your yard or field you will have me charged with trespassing. What makes a balloon landing different? CCtransplant I am far from having money but I do have respect and if those in the Balloons would have the same it may make things a little different. As for you selling and moving BYE.

  20. Had to see it to beleive it says:

    Last year was the first time a balloon landed by my house. Now I see why people say they do not want them landing by livestock. Our horses went nuts. To the point where I asked the guy to take off again and land somewhere else. So on a rant now if I walk into your yard or field you will have me charged with trespassing. What makes a balloon landing different? CCtransplant I am far from having money but I do have respect and if those in the Balloons would have the same it may make things a little different.

  21. I must admit, I have been to it several times and haven’t seen balloons in the air due to weather. It seems that the weekend they pick is when the weather turns.

  22. Right Winger says:

    They haven’t got the rules and stuff up yet, but they’re working with the National Organization up in Delaware to come up with guidelines and stuff. I can’t wait!!!

  23. Fly the balloons, and shoot at them with the pumpkins!! That will draw a crowd!!

    • Clarke County Annie says:

      That’s the best idea I’ve read so far.
      That visual in my mind brought an out loud hearty laugh. Thanks for your creative thinking!

  24. Bville-Bud says:

    SWEET, I’d love to see the pumpkin thing.

  25. This festival has been turning into more of a wine festival over the past couple of years. People will still come to drink. Tossing pumpkins and drinking wine, should be quite an event.

    • Millwood Resident says:

      If Long Branch finally gave into the claims and complaints of the horse community,that is unfortunate. The Balloon Festival, balloons flying or not, contributed a visually pleasing sight to the county. Beautiful colored balloons gliding in the wind was a treat to behold, or serving as a backdrop to the events of the day. It seemed to speak to our county’s inner being. Reserved, conservative, bold yet historically appropriate. Pumpkin smashing conjures up a whole different image and I fear will not draw the same reaction, or the same level of ticket buyers. And thus, it ends. I think Long Branch and the county will regret losing this visually pleasing and unique event. Too bad, we, the government and its people, could not have worked with Long Branch to continue to bring many visitors to our small little community. It was an opportunity to show case our county and let visitors know what we have to offer. Oh, that’s right we do not want anymore people! We are closed and this helps seal the deal!

  26. Judy in VA says:

    Just heard about this (I’m a little behind) and think it’s a real shame. While I’m sympathetic to not wanting to harm animals, I can’t imagine the balloons are any worse than firecrackers on July 4th in spooking them. Frankly, if that’s the argument, then why isn’t Clark County banning other balloonists from flying over the area other times of the year? At least for the festival, owners know when it’s scheduled and could take necessary precautions. The balloons were a unique addition to an otherwise humdrum wine tasting event. Guess I can cross this off my list of things to do.