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Teton Valley News - July 7, 2011 - Page A9

TVN Photo/Lisa Nyren

TVN Photo/Lisa Nyren

Clockwise from top left: Valley residents and visitors watched about a dozen balloons float through the early morning sky Saturday from the Teton County

Fairgrounds in Driggs. A balloon crewman esnures his envelope inflates correctly.

TVN Photo/Lisa Nyren

TVN Photo/Scott Anderson

A pilot fires up his craft.

Massive balloon envelopes inflate together in front of clear Teton views.

Couple remembers first balloon festival Lisa Nyren TVN Staff


ne early morning in 1977, Nancy and Dan Griffin, recently married, woke up to hot air balloons landing in their back yard in Fort Collins, Colo. Three years later, Dan bought Nancy a hot air balloon ride for her birthday, and two years after that the couple flew their own balloon in their first balloon festival, which also

TVN Photo/Lisa Nyren

Dan and Nancy Griffin of Fort Collins, Colo. attended Teton Valley’s first-ever balloon festival, and they’ve been flying here ever since.

TVN Photo/Lisa Nyren

Pins representing the eight crafts that flew in the first-ever balloon festival in Teton Valley in 1982. Nancy and Dan Griffin’s craft, bottom row on the left, was made with the colors of the earth, grass and sky in mind. The couple named their envelope Windsong.

happened to be a first for Teton Valley. Father’s Day weekend in 1982 was the first ever Teton Valley balloon festival, featuring eight colorful crafts. The Griffins designed their first balloon, named Windsong, with fabric in colors of yellow, green and blue to represent the sun, earth and sky. They’ve been flying high together ever since, and they’ve been coming to Teton Valley’s Summer Festival since its inception. “This has just been a wonderful event all through it,” Nancy said. She served as Teton Valley Balloon Festival’s balloonmeister in the early 1990s, when this festival hosted over 40 crafts. The balloonmeister is essentially the pilot organizer and event coordinator. Nancy took care of inviting the pilots, worked with local event organizers, made sure the pilots and their equipment were safe to fly, and conducted pilot briefings every morning before each launch.

The daughter of a fixed-wing pilot, Nancy said she always knew she wanted to fly something; it wasn’t until their experience with the hot air balloons that she decided this sport was for her. Now a full-time volunteer, Nancy spends her time teaching kids about the sport of ballooning, hoping to get them interested. “We hope to get younger people involved in aviation,” she said. She also likes seeing the looks on children’s faces when she and Dan do tethered demonstrations at schools and other gatherings. She even remembers doing a demo at the Alta School years ago. The couple has also joined forces with children’s book author Stephen Cosgrove (Serendipity Books) to design the Hare Ship, a balloon featuring rabbits from Cosgrove’s stories. Whether working with children or adults, what Nancy likes most about

ballooning is the people she meets. “Each day you get to meet somebody else whose life is in this valley,” she said of the Teton Valley Balloon Festival. “They’re just intrigued by it.” The couple has even flown with people whose life dream is to get up in a balloon. “That’s what ballooning’s all about,” Nancy said. “You’re making people’s dreams come true.” And what about Teton Valley? The Griffins have nothing but good things to say about their experiences here, even when several years ago where they had to land in a gravel pit near Tetonia. “Let’s just say the gravel pit was interesting. I’ll leave it at that,” Nancy chuckled. The couple has seen drastic changes in the valley since their first flight here in 1982. “Did you just plant more houses?” Nancy laughed. Dan said he’s never seen so much snow on the Big Holes in June as he did this year. And while the couple has been ballooning together for almost three decades, they’ve no plans of packing up their hot air any time soon. Noting the balloon basket weights about 450 pounds, and the envelope, made of ripstop nylon can weight up to 300 pounds, Dan said, “I’d like to fly as long as I can find people willing to life this thing up.” To contact Lisa Nyren email


TeTon Valley news - July 7, 2011 - Page a9 Lisa Nyren TVN Staff TVN Photo/Lisa NyrenTVNPhoto/LisaNyren TVN Photo/Lisa Nyren TVN Photo/Scott...