BATTLE CREEK (WZZM) -- It is one of the biggest and best balloon events in the country and it's happening this weekend.
The Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival even won the WZZM 13 Bracket Challenge back in April.
This year's festival started Thursday with a bit of a delay for the pilots because of high wind. But once, those those balloons got in the air it was obvious what makes this event so special.
"They are so beautiful it is just great to see them," said Calhoun County resident Bonnie Robinson.
Robinson was among the many people looking toward the colorful skies this weekend as dozens of balloonists lifted off to take part in this year's event.
"This is one of the best festivals in the United States. We've been coming to it every since the beginning and it has always been one of our highlights of the year to come to," said Ron Groce, a balloon pilot from Mason, Michigan.
Groce is one of the 42 pilots competing in the event. Some of them go up for the win, others do it more for the fun. Either way, these guys are serious, passionate and down right fun to watch.
"The competition we have down here is some of the best competition in the world. Most of the balloon pilots you see down here. Probably have the top 20 people in the world at this event. So, when you compete here you are competing against the best," said Groce.
"In the early days when we used to compete with the big "X" they had on the ground. If you even got in the field with them you probably won the event. Here the "X's" are 3 foot squares in the middle. If you don't have your baggie on the square from 15 miles away at the 3rd target you don't win."
The spectators and fans enjoy the festival, now celebrating its' 30th year.
"When it first started it was like 150 balloons. It was just unreal. Of course, back then it was all new so we all chased them," said Robinson.
She doesn't have to chase them anymore because they come right to her. She allowed her back yard to be a launch site for several pilots on opening day and took in the sights as they set up and flew over her home.
"This is #10 that's gone up," said Robinson, snapping photos. "Kind of thinking, 'geesh it would be nice to go up with them. Oh, I love it. It is just great."
The four-day festival also includes carnival rides, live entertainment and a performance by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.
"We've made this event so affordable with so many activities. Non-stop activities and events and things to see. If you can do it once take the chance to do it this year because we have so much planned on this field that it is going to be awesome," said Jeffery Parker, a festival volunteer and balloonist in training. "
Parker says this will be the Thunderbirds only performance in Michigan this year.
"It is real honor to have them come out and join us," he added. "It is very special and we are hoping everyone comes out and joins us this year."
Meanwhile, Bonnie Robinson will enjoy her front row seat to the best show in town.
The balloons will take off again Friday at 6:30 p.m. from the W.K. Kellogg Airport.
However, the weekend is jammed pack with many events. For more details click here to go to the festival website.