But when it left, county officials didn't lick their wounds. Instead, they took eight months and put together a bigger - and, hopefully, better - balloon festival.
The result is the Great Southeast BalloonFest, which will kick off for the first time on Friday.
For three days, the Great Southeast BalloonFest will feature nationally recognized entertainment, dozens of children's activities, beer and wine tastings, beach music, pep rallies, hot dog and wing-eating contests, a soccer tournament and, of course, dozens upon dozens of hot-air balloons taking to the sky all weekend long.
"I would say (the festival) has certainly exceeded expectations," said Carey Jones, executive director of BalloonFest, "but I wouldn't say I'm surprised by that."
Surprised? No. Excited? Oh, yeah!
In its first year, the BalloonFest will have more than 70 balloonists competing and providing balloon rides throughout the weekend. That's more than most organizers expected for a first-year ballooning event. But Anderson has a reputation as a great venue for ballooning, thanks to eight years of Freedom Weekend and five years of hosting Balloon Federation of America competitions.
Listing all of the activities scheduled for this weekend would be next to impossible. That's what schedules of events are for. (See below.) Suffice it to say, ticket outlet phones have been ringing off the hook for the concerts, from Bucky Covington and Morris Day and the Time to the Big Boy Toy Show car and boat show to the beach music events and fireworks.
One thing we won't see at BalloonFest, however, is a midway. Charles Wyatt, executive director of the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center, said the days of carnival rides in the parking lot are over.
"We already have a fair that caters to that need, and it's coming up in October," he said. "We didn't want to step on any toes over there, and I think the event (BalloonFest) will be better for it."
With so much to do, the only problem might be overstimulation. In addition to BalloonFest, the Upstate will also host AnMed's Midnight Flight on Friday, plus a full calendar of activities at Clemson University, coinciding with the Clemson vs. Florida State football game on Monday night.
Jones said not to worry about it.
"It all works together," he said. "If you buy a ticket to our BeachFest on Saturday, you get $2 off a ticket to the Tiger Shag in Clemson, and vice versa. Plus, we are doing a Clemson and Florida State pep rally and having balloons flying at midnight."
And it's all being accomplished because Anderson runs the show now. BalloonFest is owned by Anderson and relies on Anderson supporters
ummmmm...... you would struggle to buy tickets for a Tiger Shag in UK, another one of those cultural diferences.