hot air jubilee


The Hot Air Jubilee is one of Jackson’s big annual events. Photos of hot air balloons are all over the Chamber of Commerce’s promotional materials, and for good reason: thousands of people head to Ella Sharp Park each July to watch the liftoffs.

For me, it never gets old. There’s magic in these giant sacks of hot air slowly inflating, and then leaving the ground, heading to Oz – or the outskirts of the county. It’s not just the balloons, either. The Hot Air Jubilee is like a small county fair, with junk food and rides and games of chance.

Tons of local photographers fight for the chance to get inside the launch grounds. I’ve been there, but it’s just as fun to sit on the sidelines and watch the show as a spectator.

These Never Never Land moments are rare, indeed.

People Behind the Event

Hot Air Jubilee - Jackson, MI

Hot air jubilees, including the annual one in my hometown, are great for photography material. The colors, the shapes, the ambition.

But it’s hard not to fall into cliché. If you’ve seen one soaring balloon, you’ve probably seen them all. And unless you have an in-basket view, there’s only so much you can do from the ground.

It’s why I like focusing on the people behind the event – who puts these things together? What are their jobs? Is there any struggle?

Or, what if you took the colors away? And just focused on the shapes? Hence, this shot from just before sunset.