The Great Forest Park Balloon Race To Relocate To Art Hill

ST. LOUIS, MO/May 15, 2017 (STL.News) The Great Forest Park Balloon Race and Balloon Glow are being relocated to Art Hill in Forest Park this year.

Organizers say the change in venue is due to the renovations to Central Fields in Forest Park.  The 45th event will be held September 15th – 16th.

“Forest Park in St. Louis is one of the more interesting and beautiful locations to fly from for a hot air balloon pilot,” says Brian Schettler, Great Forest Park Balloon Race Partner.  “The race has taken place on many different fields in the park and we are looking forward to bringing it back to Art Hill.”

Richard L. Nix, Jr., Great Forest Park Balloon Race Partner, agrees, “The reflections of the balloon glowing on the Grand Basin will be truly spectacular and the launch from Art Hill, will be a work of art.”

The annual event brings in about 150,000 people and has become the largest sporting event in Missouri.  More than sixty colorful hot air balloons from around the country will decorate the sky over the St. Louis region. It will also include live music, entertainment, and food.  The mainstage entertainment and activities haven’t been announced.

This popular St. Louis tradition was started in 1973 by renowned balloonists Nikki Caplan and John O’Toole.  In 1977, it was taken over by four, young, enthusiastic balloonists, John Marlow, John Schaumburg, Dan Schettler, and Ted Staley.

“When we started 45 years ago, only one of us had ever seen a hot-air balloon,” says Marlow, the group’s president and president of the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, Inc.  “We didn’t know we needed a license or insurance.  We bought an old, used balloon much worse than buying an old, used car, and thought we’d just jump in and fly away.”

From humble beginnings, the Great Forest Park Balloon Race and Balloon Glow has become part of St. Louis’ legacy.  Fast forward to the new millennium.   The Great Forest Park Balloon Race was inducted into the permanent collection of the Library of Congress on May 23, 2000.  The induction honors the race as a Local Legacy and documents the race as a “meaningful and significant American community tradition.”

It also has the distinction of being the second oldest balloon race in the United States.
More information about the Great Forest Park Balloon Race and Balloon Glow is available online at