Brookfield - A Great Place to Land

History of the Event

This is the 41st year the Great Pershing Balloon Derby has held Balloon Federation of America sanctioning. This is the Longest Running Continuously Sanctioned Balloon Event in the Nation.

History of the Great Pershing Balloon Derby (GPBD)

The Pershing Memorial Development Association along with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) launched the GPBD competition as a way to raise funds for a Pershing Museum. This group later became the Pershing Balloon Federation (PBF) and sponsored the GPBD through its 7th year. Starting with the 8th GPBD and continuing through today, the event is sponsored by Green Hills Ballooning, Inc.

The 1st GPBD was held September 30 - October 2, 1977. The event had 40 balloons and was held at the Pershing State Park. The 2nd GPBD was moved to Labor Day Weekend and started a tradition of balloons in Brookfield over Labor Day weekend which continues through today. The 3rd year the event attracted 70 balloons and saw the use of Observers for the first time. The GPBD was the first US event to use Observers whose purpose is to act as impartial judges to help make sure all of the competition rules are followed. The 4th, 5th and 6th events saw 60 - 80 balloons entered in the competition. The 7th GPBD was much smaller due to funding problems which caused it to be the last year the event was sponsored by the PBF.

The 2nd through the 8th GPBD events averaged 40 balloons and were held in locations owned by the following land owners: Hugh Braymer family, Charles Kaye family, Tom Jesaitis family, and Earl Farrar/Alexander Land and Cattle Company. The 9th GPBD event moved to land owned by the Myron Peacher family and is still being held on this land today. Also at this time, most non-launch site activities were moved to the Brookfield Elks Lodge which continues to be the headquarters for the event today.

With the disbanding of the PBF, the GPBD almost came to an end. Early in 1984 John Petrehn, a balloonist from Kansas City, held a meeting in Brookfield to see if the event could continue. From the meeting Green Hills Ballooning, Inc. was established.

The 10th through the 13th events were once again cosponsored by the MoDNR. Through these years an average of 40 balloons participated. Spectators averaged 10,000 with a high of 14,000 in 1986. Since these years, the GPBD has seen the addition of such things as a crafts festival, baby show and queen contest held in the Brookfield Twin Parks. The 17th GPBD added a Nite Lite to the Sunday night of the event and has proved to be one of the most popular of all Launch Site activities. From the 14th GPBD to current the average number of balloons entered in the completion is 45.

In 2006 at the 30th GPBD, the event was recognized by the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) as the Longest Running Continuously Sanctioned Event in the Nation.

In 2015, Green Hills Ballooning, Inc. and the GPBD hosted the BFA North Central Regional Championship for the fifth year in a row.   This year will be the GPBD's 41st year as a BFA Sanctioned Event, still recogninzed as the Longest Running Continuously Sanctioned Balloon Event in the Nation.

While details for the 41st GPBD are being finalized now, plans are currently underway for the 42nd GPBD Labor Day weekend 2018. Green Hills Ballooning Inc. would like to thank all sponsors, landowners, volunteers and spectators for helping make the Great Pershing Balloon Derby successful.

5 John Esserman

Our Location

Myron Preacher Memorial Launch Site
Just West of Brookfield

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