Special to Iredell Free News

Carolina BalloonFest announced Tuesday that Statesville native Sam Parks has been hired as executive director.

Gary Cook, president of the Carolina BalloonFest Board, said the nonprofit was “elated” to hire someone with Parks’ experience and passion for ballooning.

Sam Parks

“His accomplishments as a world-class pilot and aeronaut are simply unmatched. More importantly, his enthusiasm for this event and our community is infectious,” Cook said in a news release.

Parks succeeds Don Edwards, who was hired as director in March of 2023.

Parks’ ballooning credentials are extensive. He served as the balloonmeister for Carolina BalloonFest from 2011-2017 and the prestigious Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from 2013-2018. Throughout his career, Parks has flown hot air balloons in eight countries. He was an 11-time North Carolina State Champion.

His credential include being selected as this year’s championship director of the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship, representing the United States at the World Championship in Australia in 2004, and receiving the highest honors from Ballooning’s governing body.

“I’ve been attending and participating in Carolina BalloonFest since its inception so I have a deep appreciation for this remarkable event and our community,” said Parks. “I’m honored to serve as executive director, working closely with our amazing volunteers, staff, sponsors and nonprofits to create uplifting experiences for all.”

Previously the owner of Parks Quality Air Inc. for over 27 years and management for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for the past five years, Parks will now focus on leading Carolina BalloonFest into its next chapter of success and community impact.

The 49th Annual Carolina BalloonFest is scheduled for October 18-20, 2024.


For more details, visit: carolinaballoonfest.com.

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