Spokane is home to a lot of big events like Hoopfest and Bloomsday, but our neighbors to the east throw a pretty big part themselves. Music, food, and hot air balloons are just some of the fun to be found at Valleyfest, which kicks off this weekend in Spokane Valley.

As a sneak peek to the festivities, I was treated to a hot air balloon ride on Tuesday morning. 

The skies were calm and I was excited. This would be my second ever hot air balloon ride to help promote Valleyfest.

“It can't get any better than this," said balloonist and Valleyfest board member Stephanie Hughes.  "The winds are calm. Good conditions in the skies, so we are going to have a great flight."

The hot air balloons are a bright Valleyfest tradition that was almost snuffed out.

Hughes is one of many people who put their heart and soul into the fun-filled weekend. Each year it gets bigger and better with more events, games, food and music. But after losing a sponsor from last year, insurance costs for the hot air balloons were just too much, until another sponsor stepped in to help.

Washington Trust Bank is the proud balloon sponsor this year, making the weekend, and my ride, possible.

KXLY4 News is partnering with Valleyfest and Spokane Transit for "Stuff the Bus" again this year.

Bring a new or gently used coat to the Centerplace Regional Event Center on both Saturday and Sunday to help us keep kids warm this winter.