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Riverton’s balloon rally held this weekend, city buys new hot air balloon

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Taylar Stagner
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Birds eye view of the balloon rally located at Central Wyoming College.

This weekend, Riverton held their annual balloon rally. At the 42nd Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Rally, twenty balloon pilots gathered at the crack of dawn to a crowd of about one thousand attendees.

Balloon meister Andy Samuelson has enjoyed the balloon rally since he was a kid.

“It was pretty special. And we had 1,000s of people on the field. It's still interesting, it still catches everybody's attention and you know, intrigues, all the younger kids especially,” he said.

The City of Riverton has their own series of hot air balloons called the Cloud Kissers. Samuelson said the 4th Cloud Kisser was acquired last year.

“We just ordered Cloud Kisser five. It'll have a white main part of the body there with a black ribbon logo on it.,” he said.

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Taylar Stagner
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It takes a half a dozen people to set up a balloon, chase it down, and then pack it up again.

A brand new balloon costs around $40,000 - $60,000 so private pilots come from all around to get their rides sponsored. Sponsorships start at around $700 for the unique experience of riding in a hot air balloon.

The event had balloon pilots from California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and even Canada.

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Taylar Stagner
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Lander resident Sheri Essen has been a launch director for the last 21 years. Cloud kisser #4 in the background.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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