Event showcases balloons, dogs, cars

PINE MOUNTAIN — Hot-air balloons rose above the treeline at Callaway Gardens for the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival over Labor Day weekend, but they were far from the only thing that drew people to the festival over the long weekend.

The 2016 Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival featured a Classic Car Show, Disc Dog demonstrations, music by Southern country artist Kyle Wilson on Saturday evening and by Atlanta rock group The Regulars on Sunday evening, and – of course – fireworks.

People drove and hauled in classic cars from all over the Southeast for the show, but tucked between glistening Chevrolet Impalas and polished 1960s Cadillacs, Troup County residents’ cars and trucks shined bright.

“We just enjoy getting out and loafing around in the cars,” said Jerry Stanford of Stanford Automotive in LaGrange, who entered two Chevrolet Bel Airs and an Impala in the show with his wife, Sara Stanford. “We drive to all of the shows. A lot of people haul them around, but we like to drive ours when we go to all of the shows.”

Many of the cars at the show underwent extensive restoration to bring them back to their original glory, but some car enthusiasts took a different route with their vehicles.

“People think a rat rod, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on, but you actually do because you still gotta have your safety part in it, so as far as frame, running here,” said Charles Nixon, who works at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. “You still gotta have your safety on it. So you know when you’re driving down the road you’re still safe. … Just money and time, that’s all it takes.”

While gearheads and curious visitors checked out the car show, other guests enjoyed one last weekend on the beach at Robin Lake where the cool water was a relief from the warm evening temperatures. Overlooking the lake, guests were able to observe canine agility challenges at various times throughout the weekend.

“We are out here doing some demonstrations with dogs. Specifically, agility and disk – flying disk, frisbee,” said Marnie Brown of K9 Einstein who helped run the Disc Dog programs throughout the weekend. “I believe this is maybe our fifth or sixth year here at the festival. (It is) one of our favorites. Great crowds out here.”

The dogs seemed to love the challenge as much as the crowd who watched them. Tails wagged and the crowd cheered as the dogs played with frisbees after running through an obstacle course consisting of a tunnel and weave poles and short a jump. As the sun began to set and music began to play, the balloons once more rose into the air.

“This is our second time (at the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival),” said Patricia Grogan, who came down with her husband, Patrick Grogan, from North Carolina to fly their balloon, “Don’t Worry.” “I like to meet the people here.”

The Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival is scheduled to go through Monday. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.

A dog leaps over a hurdle during the Disc Dog demonstration on Saturday at Callaway Gardens. During the demonstration, dogs also ran through tunnels and caught Frisbees.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd02-2.jpgA dog leaps over a hurdle during the Disc Dog demonstration on Saturday at Callaway Gardens. During the demonstration, dogs also ran through tunnels and caught Frisbees. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News

Charles Nixon poses next to the rat rod he built using the cab of a Willys Jeep Truck. A variety of different cars and trucks were featured at the Classic Car Show at the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd03-2.jpgCharles Nixon poses next to the rat rod he built using the cab of a Willys Jeep Truck. A variety of different cars and trucks were featured at the Classic Car Show at the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival on Saturday. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News

A hot-air balloon pilot uses a propane burner to fill his balloon with the hot air needed for it to rise. Hot-air balloon owners from around the country allowed festival guests to ride in their balloons this weekend at Callaway Gardens.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd04-2.jpgA hot-air balloon pilot uses a propane burner to fill his balloon with the hot air needed for it to rise. Hot-air balloon owners from around the country allowed festival guests to ride in their balloons this weekend at Callaway Gardens. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News

Guests of Callaway Gardens on Sunday during the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival enjoy one of the last summer days of the year at Robin Lake Beach.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd05-2.jpgGuests of Callaway Gardens on Sunday during the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival enjoy one of the last summer days of the year at Robin Lake Beach. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News

‘Sesame Street’ character Cookie Monster adorns a hot-air balloon as it is inflated Sunday at Callaway Gardens during the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival, part of its Labor Day weekend slate of events.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd06-2.jpg‘Sesame Street’ character Cookie Monster adorns a hot-air balloon as it is inflated Sunday at Callaway Gardens during the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival, part of its Labor Day weekend slate of events. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News

Jerry and Sara Stanford of Stanford Automotive in LaGrange pose next to their Chevrolet Bel Airs at the Classic Car Show by the Beach Dome at Callaway Gardens on Sunday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd07-2.jpgJerry and Sara Stanford of Stanford Automotive in LaGrange pose next to their Chevrolet Bel Airs at the Classic Car Show by the Beach Dome at Callaway Gardens on Sunday. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News

Balloons take to the sky on Saturday, despite some weather delays, during the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens. The event was one of several held at the Pine Mountain resort during Labor Day weekend.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/09/web1_web0905LaborDayWknd01-2.jpgBalloons take to the sky on Saturday, despite some weather delays, during the 18th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens. The event was one of several held at the Pine Mountain resort during Labor Day weekend. Alicia B. Hill | Special to the Daily News
Labor Day weekend activities draw crowd

Alicia B. Hill

Daily News correspondent