Amid the constant buzz of fans and the gush of propane igniting in the air, Josh Sneed walked the field at Lake Kyle Park Saturday, assessing the scene in front of him.
All around the greenery were balloons starting to take shape. Large nylon structures rose high into the sky as revelers looked on in amazement, snapping photos and enjoying the moment.
For Sneed, he’s known this experience almost all his life. Last weekend, he and many other pilots got their chance to share their craft when Kyle hosted its inaugural Pie in the Sky balloon festival.
“It’s good for the community and I think it will bring a lot of attention for the city of Kyle and what they’re trying to do,” Sneed said.
Kyle’s festival was the culmination of several years of work involving committees, the citizenry and city staff.
Scott Sellers, Kyle city manager, said the city has for several years sought to find a destination appeal for the city.
“Over the years, Kyle has grown up fairly quickly, but with nothing to its name other than a suburb of Austin, or so it was assumed,” Sellers said. “While those who live here know Kyle has much to offer, others pass through Kyle and don’t stop because they don’t have reason to.”
It was pie that many felt drew traffic off of Interstate 35 to the city. Specifically, the Texas Pie Company, located in downtown Kyle. After discussion, the city officially filed a trademark to the U.S. Patent Office to become the Pie Capital of Texas.
Right around the time of the filing, Kyle sought to pair the “Pie Capital” designation with a signature event.
City officials attempted to create an event called the “Hogwash.” Appeal for the festival, however, didn’t come to fruition.
While at a Kyle Chamber of Commerce function Sellers met Susan Garrison, who is a hot air balloon pilot.
Garrison had just returned from the National Hot Air Balloon Festival, which is held in east Texas. Sellers, a member of the planning committee of the National Hot Air Balloon festival, began chatting with Garrison of the plausibility of a similar event in Kyle.
Nine months later and the conversation took flight.
“We talked about how cool it would be for a hot air balloon festival in Kyle,” Sellers said. “The two ideas blended together. Having a signature event that follows a signature destination appeal.”
Trying to draw people to a signature event, however, is the challenge for every community, Sellers said. The more unique it is, the more it could be an attraction.
Marble Falls is currently one of the few Central Texas areas that has a balloon festival. Sellers said having a balloon festival in Kyle was the city’s opportunity to take.
“To incorporate such a unique draw with the Pie Company, it did come together very well,” Seller said.