The small town of Paracho, Michoacán hosts an annual balloon festival where hundreds of hand-made balloons are launched over the course of a weekend. Ranging in size from pumpkins to small houses, the balloons are constructed from nothing but tissue-paper and glue.
A flame-lit cloth, soaked in paraffin or kerosene, provides the heat needed to lift the balloon high into the sky.
Impossibly-complex shapes and designs are the stuff of dreams. All you need are a pair of scissors, buckets of white glue, some cellophane tape, endless reams of tissue paper, and many skilled hands. Added plus: a creative visionary who has an eye for symmetry, graphic design and an understanding of geometry & physics.
Locals and visitors alike crowd Paracho's plaza to watch teams inflate and launch their balloons.
Tissue-paper balloons are truly an ephemeral art. Designed for a single launch, months of hard work are greeted with either immediate success or immediate failure. When a balloon clears the ground, it climbs high in the sky—never to be seen again. Conversely, an uncooperative gust of wind can dash one's dreams—sending the delicate art/aircraft up in a quick-burning puff of smoke.
In addition to local and native-Mexican entrants, select, foreign designers (from Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, & France) were invited to participate in the weekend's festivities.
Locals ply their wares to festival goers.
Activities for everyone.
Seemingly, every-other storefront in Paracho is a luthier—filled with locally-made (and nationally-famous) guitars & vihuelas.
All Photos © Rob Fleming, 2014