The 32nd annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo isn’t just resurrecting the Balloon Glow tradition at this year’s event. The festival will be overseen by a new Balloonmeister, a Jill-of-all-trades and balloon fanatic named Debby Standefer.
When you step out onto the colorful launch field this July 13 and 14, know that this good-humored, veteran balloon pilot is taking care of business, and helping to spread the joy of this unique event here in the Yampa Valley.
Find out more about the 32nd annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and view a full weekend schedule.
Here’s a little more about our fearless leader:
Name: Debby Standefer
Hometown: Manhattan, New York
Years ballooning: 33 years in ballooning and 25 as pilot. Debby is a commercial LTA pilot, instructor and previous Vice President of the Balloon Federation of America
Events involved with: Rocky Mountain BalloonFest/Rocky Mountain Airshow, Take to the Skies AirFest, Plano Balloon Festival, The Heart of Texas Airshow, founder of the Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival
Tell us about your first balloon experience and why it drew you into the sport
I chased a balloon with a friend in Colorado Springs and was enthralled by the magic of the balloon. I crewed at that festival for four years before taking my first flight and I was hooked. It was exciting and peaceful, all at the same time. Truly a magical experience.
Do you have a favorite location or place to fly?
I have flown all over the country and in Mexico and Germany. My favorite place to fly is in the mountains.
Describe one of your favorite flight memories
Six pilots took our balloons and camped in a valley in Southern California we had always wanted to fly in. The next morning we took off at the base of the foothills and had a breathtaking flight through the valleys and mountains. It was gorgeous. Camping with my balloon — that was fun!
Do you have a favorite balloon you’ve flown, and why?
I have flown many systems and flew a Balloon Works (3 sided basket) for 18 years. My current balloon, High Horizons, is my favorite. The colors are beautiful and it is a Lindstrand Balloons system which has all the extra touches with it. The best of the best!
What other activities are you interested in while on the ground?
Experiencing all of the beauty and ambiance Steamboat has to offer.
In general, not in Steamboat, I have Holsteiner horses and love outdoor activities. I love the saying, “If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains…you’re lucky enough!”
What are you looking forward to about being the Balloonmeister at the Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Rodeo?
To working with our great group of pilots and assisting in bringing the color and the awesomeness of ballooning to the spectators.