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RISE hosts second annual Hot Air Balloon Festival


RISE, a nonprofit organization from the community, recently held its second annual RISE 2023 Hot Air Balloon Festival. The event was at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center off of Highway 49. The community was invited for a weekend full of fun that the whole family could enjoy.

The festival hosted food truck vendors, an art exhibit, live music, and, of course, hot air balloons. With 14 balloons filling the open area, guests got to enjoy tethered rides at $15 dollars. And the event also had a section for kids, which allowed parents to sit back and relax while their children engaged in fun.

The organization kept the cost of attendance low, with guests being able to donate canned goods to enter or pay $1 to enjoy all the festivities offered.

The festival kicked off Sept. 22 and lasted through Sept. 24, with each day having a new theme. Patriot’s Day was the theme of the opening day. And it was in honor of the military, first responders, and veterans. These brave men and women came out to enjoy the day and take a couple of pictures in the hot air balloons. Guests enjoyed music as the crews from the hot air balloons set up and started prepping the balloons for flight.

Sept. 23 was Spirit Day. And this was a day for the guests to show some school spirit while also meeting the Universities in the community.

And the event concluded with Faith Day on Sept. 24. This was the day the organization welcomed the churches of the Pine Belt area for worship.

All the funds and donations the organization raised went to helping the students of the non-profit and families in need of support through tough times.

RISE is an organization created to help the community. Their Mission and goal is to
Educate, encourage, empower women and men to RISE to a place of self-sufficiency. The group’s Executive Director, Mrs. Linda Donell, shared the goals and mission of the organization.

“RISE is all about helping and offering a hand up for people in need,” Donell said. “We strive to help them rise to self-sufficiency.”

The organization was founded in 2001 and was formerly known as the Christian Women Job Corps (CWJC). They work with the community to provide support to those in need and provide classes for these individuals to be able to become a working member of society.

For more information about RISE, visit their website at and follow them on their social media platforms at RISE.

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