The International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

When last we spoke, I told you of the woes I encountered on the way to an attempted family adventure.  We got lost.  We sat in traffic for hours.  We had no money and none of our cards worked.  The wind and rain were on the verge of cancelling the whole thing anyway.  It was truly a disaster.  But I am here to tell you that all was not lost!  Read on and discover why this is an event that you will want to check out.

First of all, I don’t think I need to say any more than this: 47 giant bouncy houses.  I know there are 47 because I took pictures of all of them.  And we went on at least 42 of them.  They had slides.  They had ladders.  They had mazes.  I don’t think I am overselling this by telling you that this place was pretty much paradise.  Edward has not stopped talking about the bouncy houses, and begging to go back there, since we left.  And did I mention that they were all included in the price of admission?  And that there were small or no lines for all of them?  Yeah, even if nothing else had worked out except for the bouncy houses, it all would have been worth it.

But after about an hour of bouncing our brains out I saw, off in the far field, the sight of half-inflated balloons slowly filling up the horizon.  “The balloons!” I screeched, in full six-year-old mode.  “The balloons are going up!”  This was what I was waiting for.  I have wanted to go to a hot air balloon festival since I was a kid, and this was my first one.  Ruby, Edward, and I were all at about the same level of excitement: infinite.  I won’t put feelings in my wife’s mouth, but she seemed pretty excited too.  Parents, I have to tell you, there is just nothing out there like the sight of complete and utter awe and wonder on the faces of your children.  This day catapulted immediately into the pantheon of days that I will remember vividly for the rest of my life.

The sight of dozens of balloons filling the evening sky was incredible, but eventually they all floated away, which meant it was time to go back for more bouncing.  And bounce we did.  We bounced until well past bedtime and into the meltdown zone.  Time for a concert!

You are not going to believe this, but the Owl City concert was included with admission as well.  All of their main stage performances are included in the price of the ticket.  And the cost of the entire thing, for all four of us, was a total of fifty Canadian dollars.  Total.  Amazing.  So we got our beach chairs out of the trunk and set them up in the chair area, at which point we realized exactly how very hungry and thirsty we were.  While my wife sat with the kids, I decided to have one last go at trying to use my card to get money from a Canadian machine.

The grounds were big and confusing, and I had no map.  The signs were all in French, and none of the water was potable.  I was parched and desperate.  But divine providence arrived in the form of an ATM machine that appeared out of nowhere and decided to start spitting cash out at me, despite the fact that my card was American and every other bank and machine in the country had previously rejected me.  Thank you, randomly placed Canadian ATM machine.  You saved my life.

I arrived triumphantly back at the stage area laden with bottled water, sodas, cotton candy, and popcorn.  All of our problems had been solved, and we were ready to sit back and watch some DJs shout things at us in a foreign language.  No, I had no idea what was going on, but it was still cool.  And when Owl City came out, we sang along to all of the songs until the wee hours.

It was a completely exhausting day, but somehow the trials and tribulations that we went through to make it to the end only made the successes that much sweeter.  It was such a fun and affordable event, and I can’t wait to do it again.  And neither can my kids.  And they keep letting me know this.  Frequently.

Posted in Bouncy Houses, Canada, Hot Air Balloon Festival, Money, Photo, Video.

One Comment

  1. Oh sniff! What a fabulous experience and day! I swear we will never remember the tantrums, etc, we will only remember the magical times and that’s what gets me through! Just like childbirth…;) Thanks for sharing. I would totally be a six year old in view of all those balloons, too. 🙂

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