Just before Halloween, I planned a fun mini-vacation for the family. Statesville, NC was having their annual Balloonfest and it seemed like a fun event for a little getaway.
We got to Statesville on Friday morning and decided to take a drive over to Zootastic Park. This is a privately owned Animal with tigers, monkeys, snakes, and other exotic animals. It wasn’t crowded and we pretty much got a personal tour of the place.
I highly recommend this place, and it’s great for kids! After we left, we got back to Statesville just in time to see the Balloons launch for the festival. Balloon launches are usually done at 8am or 5pm as these times present the best lighting, weather, and wind conditions for a safe launch. As you can see, the sky was filled with balloons. My son was very taken by this and said they looked like “beautiful diamonds in the sky” (no, I am not making this up 🙂 ). He could hardly believe it when we drove right up to the field and could see everything close up.
His favorite balloon was the Flying Purple People Eater. Although he noted that this version had more than one eye and one horn.
We walked around the festival for awhile, ate some junk food, and listened to some live music. The next morning we went panning for emeralds at the Hiddenite Mine. This was a fun, but dirty activity. Essentially you are sloshing mud and dirt around in a sluice so that you can find some treasures. I had the best luck of the group and found some nice quartz stones. My son saved all of the large rocks he found – even the ones that were just rocks!
On the way home, we stop at the NC Zoo. Since it was close to Halloween they were doing a special program about Vampire bats! We got to observe the bats in a dark cave (with infrared lighting) and also saw them drinking blood – from a feeding station not from a human!
All in all, it was a great way to spend two days – and fairly cheap as well!
Keep it Thimble!