“The Hot  Business of Balloon Love” written by Maridee Dietzel 


It began with a love story. Tamie Folley and Mike Shrum met at a ballooning event in the Philippines.  They shared a passion for ballooning, and about a year later, they began dating.


Fast forward to 2016 when they opened their business, Happily Ever After Balloon Company. Tamie was crewing for a friend in Albuquerque when he mentioned that he had an idea that may interest them. He had noticed the shirts Tamie and Mike’s crew wore when working their pink camouflage balloon; the shirts feature a heart with wings on it. The designer wanted to build a balloon in the shape of a heart, but not just an ordinary heart. This heart has personality!


According to Tamie, Te aMo, who is named after Tamie and Mike (the capital T is for Tamie, and the capital M is for Mike), is a bit stubborn—he handles and flies differently than their other five balloons. Te aMo’s eyes stand up above the rest of the heart, with his black eyebrows and casual smile showing his playful nature. Two white wings on his back also rise above the rest of the heart, and his hands join in the front with his fingers forming the shape of a heart.


Te aMo’s designer spent five months carefully constructing him in Sao Paulo, and his first flight was over beautiful Brazil. He weighs 418 pounds when he’s not inflated. When he is inflated, he measures 84 feet across from elbow to elbow, 77 feet tall, and 45 feet front to back. He can carry up to 350 pounds in passenger weight.



True to his namesake, Te aMo loves love stories. Many couples ask to propose in front of Te aMo and then have their pictures taken with him in the background. Te aMo even plans to make an appearance at a crew member’s wedding in the not-too-distant future!


Te aMo loves to fly, and so does his pilot. Tamie grew up in Albuquerque and enjoyed her first flight when she was 12. A decade and a half later, she crewed a balloon for a friend’s husband at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This time, the flight changed her life.



That “flight . . . was more spectacular than words can say!” Tamie enthused. Because of that flight, she chose to become a balloon pilot.


“Flying is my greatest passion,” says Tamie. “There’s no greater joy and peace.”



She is fortunate to balloon full-time, and during peak season, she flies as often as the weather allows, which can be four or more times each week. She’s had her share of challenging weather and rough landings—as says,


“All pilots have [those]; if they haven’t, they will at some point! I do my very best to check weather and make the safest choices every flight. I listen to my gut a lot; sometimes you don’t know why your intuition tells you what it does until later.”



Tamie and Te aMo are so popular that they’ve been able to fly together all over the world. However, her long jump flight competition (a flight in which pilots use a pre-determined amount of fuel and fly as far as possible) in Colorado with views of Pike’s Peak stands out as her most magnificent memory.


Tamie and Te aMo are hoping for good weather this year at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.



Love is soaring with savings for the Plano Balloon Festival Races and there’s much to love about early registration fees.  The Sky High Challenge will have your heart racing when you complete the 5k on Saturday, September 21 and the Half Marathon on Sunday, September 22. Or get that heartbeat fluttering with the Elevate Challenge when you complete the 5K and 10K distances.


Either way, you’ll adore the third commemorative bonus finisher medal as a reward for going the extra distance. Sign-up now to receive the early registration fee discount that saves $15 for the Sky High Challenge, $10 on the Elevate Challenge and Half Marathon, and $5 on the 10K, 5K, and 1K races.


All runners receive two tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival plus parking on race day. Early registration ends at midnight on March 31 and you don’t need a code or coupon to save when you sign-up online. These races have registration limits because there are a lot of people who are passionate about running!


Our 5K was recently ranked as one of the Top 5K’s in Texas by Texas Runner and Triathlete as seen featured in their Winter 2019 issue. Get ready to run with all your heart, and legs, at the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and 1K races.  #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon


Adobe PDF   Additional FAQ’s

Registration is not available in person at packet pickup or on race days. All registration must be done in advance online.  Registration for the Sky High Challenge, Elevate Challenge, 5K and 1K races will close at Noon on Friday, September 20, 2019 (based on availability and could sell out prior to that date and time).  Registration for the Half Marathon and 10K races will close at Noon on Saturday, September 21, 2019. There is no race day registration.

2015 PBFRaces presented by Advil

2015 video from the starting line of the PBFRaces with aerial footage of the course and hot air balloons. #PBFRaces

Posted by PBF Races on Monday, June 27, 2016


By:  Amanda Fazzino


Balloon pilot Keith Berry caught a bug for hot air ballooning 29 years ago.  “I flew as volunteer crew at a balloon festival in Missouri in 1990,” Berry recalls. “I was immediately hooked!”


That one act of service launched a decades-long commitment to the sport.


“It’s one of the most awesome feelings to be free and in control of a 75 foot tall, 50 foot wide bubble of hot air floating through the sky,” Berry says. “It’s like being able to walk on air!”


A Missouri native, Berry moved to Plano in 1998 and quickly got involved with the Plano Balloon Festival, serving as volunteer crew and then as a festival official for 15 years.

In 2002, he earned his pilot’s license and has been taking flight ever since. In 2015, Berry won first and second place in two competition targets and has won other balloon competitions over the years.


Keith Berry Highly Cool hot air balloon InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival

Festival attendees will recognize Berry’s balloon, Highly Cool, by the large Fox 4 News banner attached to the envelope during the festival weekend. Fox 4 News is a long-time sponsor of the Plano Balloon Festival. In addition to the banner, the envelope is marked by two horizontal black stripes creating three sections. The upper and lower sections are vertical rainbow stripes, while the middle section is filled with stair-stepped blocks of colors, creating a kaleidoscope effect when viewed from underneath. The 75 foot tall balloon has an air capacity of 90,000 cubic feet. When the balloon is in flight and seen from the ground, it’s hard to appreciate how big that really is. Compare it to an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which holds a similar of water.


Considering the size, it’s no wonder pilots need a team to get them off the ground. Berry now chooses his own crew and shares his knowledge with ballooning newcomers. Balloon crew volunteers are essential to a successful flight, helping to assemble, inflate, chase and pack up the balloon.


“I choose people who have a love and passion for ballooning, and just love to be part of the process,” he says.


Keith Berry Highly Cool hot air balloon InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival
Plano Balloon Festival

Berry flies as often as weather permits, usually 25 to 30 times a year.

“I try and make sure the weather and wind will be conducive for a good flight, but a few times it has made an unpredictable change,” says Berry. “I have had some ‘rougher’ landings, but nothing that was severe.”


Being suspended in a basket thousands of feet above the ground has its risks, but Berry minimizes them by planning ahead.


“I believe that being prepared for flying and keeping up with safety and sharing information with other pilots is key to being a good pilot,” he says. “Superstition has no place in flying and being safe.”


Berry and his family returned to Poplar Bluff, Missouri in 2015 after he retired from a career at AT&T. He returns to Plano each September to participate in the balloon festival.


The In Touch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival relies on hundreds of volunteers to lift off each year. Volunteers will have an opportunity to sign up later this spring to join a balloon crew for a hands-on experience assisting visiting pilots.




By: Morgan Kosinski


The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival is thrilled to have the highly decorated, and equally charming, Scott Vesely return for what promises to be another epic flight.

At Dawn’s Early Light

A commercial balloon pilot since 1982, Vesely has been cruising the skies for decades.


Most recently, he led a team of twelve pilots at Dawn Patrol, a magical event at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.


“There is nothing like flying Dawn Patrol in Albuquerque,” Vesely recalls wistfully, “We watch the sunrise over the Sandia Mountains and the traffic come onto the field. There is nothing like that type of flight.”


The AIBF explains, “The Dawn Patrol began at Balloon Fiesta in 1978, when two California balloonists developed position lighting systems that allowed them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. Fellow balloonists appreciate the Dawn Patrol because they can watch the balloons and get an early idea of wind speeds and directions at different altitudes. On mass ascension days, about a dozen Dawn Patrol balloons perform the Dawn Patrol Show, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music that has been part of the Balloon Fiesta since 1996. Dawn Patrol inflations begin, weather permitting, at about 5:45 AM, with launch around 6:00 AM.”


Scott Vesely with Miss Texas inside his hot air balloon at the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.
Scott Vesely with Miss Texas inside his hot air balloon at the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.
A Family Affair

Ballooning also runs in the family. Kim Vesely shares her son’s passion for the unique sport, and collaborated on two popular books regarding the popular pastime:  “Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta” and Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and “The World Comes to Albuquerque — The Dream Takes Flight.”

Ready for Take-Off


“There is nothing that can compare to flying in the air,” Scott praises, “All the sites, sounds, and smells, all enhance the flying pleasure.”

Now a resident of Wylie, he is looking forward to flying the InTouch Credit Union balloon, (a 120,000 Lindstrand Regular Shaped balloon) at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, and that’s not just a lot of hot air.

InTouch Credit Union Hot Air Balloon
InTouch Credit Union Hot Air Balloon photo credit Michael Nguyen taken in 2017.

Keep your eye on the skies during the launch, competition, and crowd favorite, the balloon glow, for Vesely and his team at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.


The Plano Balloon Festival 5K is ranked as one of the Top 5K’s in Texas by Texas Runner and Triathlete as seen featured in their Winter 2019 issue. Their list includes 34 races within the Lone Star State to receive recognition. If you’re wondering how many there are in Texas each year, then you might want to note that Running In The USA had 1,068 5K races on their calendar for 2018.  Only five of those are in the City of Plano.


“This race is worthy of being one of the top five 5K’s in Texas for several reasons and from varying perspectives.  For some participants it is all about the bling and our finisher medals are bright, colorful, big and feature a hot air balloon for each year of the race, so in 2019 we will have nine balloons on them.  For others it is about the festival atmosphere, there is so much to do and experience at the race plus it is very family friendly. For everyone it is about seeing hot air balloons launch above you as you are running/walking the course. These are just some of the things you can’t get at any other 5K in Texas.” – Eric Lindberg, Chief Running Officer of On Your Left! Marketing & Events.


The Plano Balloon Festival 5K is projecting 3,000 runners for 2019.  Registration includes a custom t-shirt, free parking, two tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, complimentary breakfast on race day, plus a custom finisher medal featuring nine hot air balloons.  The fees and deadline dates are as follows:
$20.00 – Special Registration (Paid by 12/31/18)
$30.00 – Early Registration (Paid by 3/31)
$35.00 – General Registration I (Paid by 6/30)
$40.00 – General Registration II (Paid by 8/31)
$45.00 – September Race Registration
$20.00 – Youth 12 & Under

In February we will reveal the new 2019 design of the finisher medals along with the fantastic graphics for the shirts.
Curious about the 5K Course Map? This scenic certified course at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve begins on Spring Creek, takes a turn onto Jupiter, again on Los Rios Blvd, and then back again. It includes a hydration station and tons of volunteers to pass out cups, medals, and cheer on the runners.

Want to take your run to the next level?  Sign-up for the Elevate Challenge and complete the 5K and 10K races to earn a bonus finisher medal! The registration fees and deadlines are as follows:
$45.00 – 2018 Special Registration (Paid by 12/31/18)
$65.00 – Early Registration (Paid by 3/31)
$75.00 – General Registration I (Paid by 6/30)
$85.00 – General Registration II (Paid by 8/31)
$95.00 – September Race Registration
$45.00 – Youth 12 & Under
Make sure you download the RaceJoy mobile app for live phone tracking on race day at the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and 1K races held on Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22, 2019.
Follow PBF Races on Facebook and Instagram and use #PBFRaces as the official hashtag.
Featured photo credited to Priyesh Patel taken at the 2016 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. #PlanoBalloon


Pilot Josh Goll and “Star Stepper” are among the 50 hot air balloons and pilots that came to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. Even though they loaded up and made the trip with his family, the Festival was cancelled due to flooding. We’d like to show you his beautiful balloon and share his story.


Let’s reflect back to  to 2017 and his first time on the Festival field as a pilot. It is quiet on a Sunday morning. The air is still, and the only sound is the intermittent hiss of a propane burner. The number 16 balloon, Star Stepper, glides southwest over the launch field toward a target spray painted on the grass. The pilot, Josh Goll, gets within feet of the giant red X marking the spot. He tosses a bean bag at the target, and the watching crowd break the silence to cheer his win. Goll expertly piloted his balloon so close to the target at the Festival Fly-In Competition that a spectator might forget the breeze is in control of its direction.


Continue reading “PILOT JOSH GOLL & “STAR STEPPER””


Throughout the 39 years of producing this annual tradition within North Texas, the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. has never experienced such a devastating loss.  The Festival is not a large corporate entity, but rather a 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by 13 Board of Directors. The sadness, and significant economic loss, is shared with the 58 local non-profits, 75 vendors, dozens of sponsors, pilots, crew, and more than 5,000 volunteers who were committed to the event.


The Festival mission is to produce a family-oriented ballooning event to benefit the community. The objective is to also offer other non-profits an opportunity to assist with the operations of the Festival and raise funds. These agencies work the gates, parking lots, kids fun zone and the races. For their services these non-profits are compensated a portion of the revenue. However, this year they earned no money to apply towards their impactful programs within the community.



In the 39 years of producing the beloved Plano Balloon Festival, we have steadfastly measured success on two fronts – the number of people we are able to wow with the beauty of hot air balloons, and the dollars raised by the non-profits who rely on the success of the festival to meet their annual fundraising goals. Sadly, mother nature took it upon herself to intervene, and 2018 will not go down as a banner year on either front.


A three-day outdoor festival in Texas is a wildly ambitious endeavor, but we are not deterred.  Our mission is to provide nonprofit agencies an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for their programs and services, which ultimately enhances the quality of life for all North Texans.  The Festival has circulated more than 3 million dollars back into the Collin County and Plano community.  Supporters and friends of the Festival, people like you, choose to give through corporate sponsorship, ticket purchase or race participation so we can hold true to our mission year-after-year.




The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival & Races include more than 3,000 volunteers that serve in various roles taking tickets, driving shuttles, crewing for pilots, and more.  For the fourth year in a row the Craig Ranch Running Club has stepped up to go the distance in a capacity that includes 13.1 miles. This trained group of runners, led by Captain Rick Johnson, will provide on-site support as the Pace Team for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon participants.


If you’ve never run a half marathon then you probably don’t understand why other runners would need volunteers to actually run alongside you. However, there are thousands who started with a 1k and eventually find themselves at the starting line of a half marathon. They likely trained with a group and will be prepared for the challenge. But, maybe they have a personal goal in mind.  Continue reading “CRAIG RANCH RUNNING CLUB LEADS HALF MARATHON PACE TEAM”


The RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team is scheduled for daily exhibitions that involve jumping out of an airplane, gliding down to the field, and landing in front of thousands of cheering fans.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. you’ll want to make your way to the field for this adventurous experience at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival being held September 21-23, 2018 at Oak Point Park.


This attraction is included with admission into the three-day weekend that also includes a fireworks show, two nights of concerts on the KLUV Main Stage and more than 50 hot air balloons! The full schedule detailing all the activities may be found here on the website.  The gates open at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21, kids 36″ and under receive free entry and general Tickets are $10 per person or $20 for the weekend pass.


Watch this beautiful video of the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team posted on our YouTube channel! #PlanoBalloon