QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Wednesday night, a reception and moonglow kicked off the milestone for the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Mark Donohue, President of the Festival Board of Directors, is one of the organizers, and he said he initially thought the celebration would be intimate with just 50 people.

“Nowhere did I ever believe this would be a sold-out event of 400 people,” Donohue said. “And let alone the county is anticipating thousands of people outside the event to participate and watch the moonglow.”

The weekend event usually attracts around 150,000 visitors and generates close to $1 million for community nonprofits each year. But organizers are now expecting more than 200,000 people to attend the celebration.

“We have food vendors, we’ve got music, and arts and all kinds of great stuff for everyone for everybody to enjoy,” Chuck Aiken, member of the Board of Directors for the Festival, said.

Amy Lapoint, Committee Member of the Adirondack Balloon Festival and author, was at the celebration, sharing stories from the pilots involved with the Festival for the last 50 years. She told News10 one of her favorites.

“Allen Emer, after 9/11, stood on top of the balloon with a flag and waved it, and the whole crowd was cheering, ‘U-S-A… U-S-A!’ Everybody came together, and it was just a wonderful moment,” she said.

Tony Saxton is a pilot who has attended the Festival for over ten years. And he said it was great to see the other pilots who have attended for the last 50 years.

“It’s great to see all of the balloons from the area,” Saxton said. “Some of which were here from the very beginning in the 1970s all the way through to the current pilots in 2023.”

Organizers are encouraging everyone to attend and be prepared for the traffic impacts of the increased number of expected visitors.

“It doesn’t cost anything. [Put] gas in your car. But come expecting a great time, come early, and have patience,” Chuck Aiken said. “There’s going to be lots of cars, so be patient in those lines. You’ll get in eventually.”