The shapes of the participating balloons in the annual Great East Texas Balloon Race have always been the event’s main draw.  Whether it is Noah’s Ark, a giant stagecoach, Cheshire Cat, a “Purple People Eater,” Coco the Clown, Buzzy Bee or something called a “Hi Jack” the novel configurations of the floating gondolas are always crowd pleasers. Bill Woodhead’s balloon “Arky” is made of more than 1700 individual pieces of sewn-together fabric that contain 240,000 cubic feet of heated air.  It is 100 feet long, 85 feet high and 55 feet across.  Meant to represent Noah’s Arc it wears the faces of 28 animals peering out and delighting onlookers.
“The truth of God’s saving grace is evidenced in the story of Noah’s Ark that this balloon represents,” said Woodhead.
The races will take place July 29-31 at Longview’s East Texas Regional Airport under the auspices of the Balloon Federation of America. At the end of the three-day event one pilot will be named State of Texas Champion, and another will earn the award as the Special Shapes Champion.