The Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic is the oldest hot-air balloon race in the mid-South. It started in Decatur, Alabama in 1978.
The sport of Hot-Air Ballooning had come to Decatur only a few years prior. The City of Decatur had decided to purchase a hot-air balloon but now needed pilots to fly it. So the salesman of the balloon agreed to train three pilots to fly the city's new balloon.
A few years later the sport of ballooning had taken off in the city and there were several well known pilots living in the area. Craving the competition and festival atmosphere provided at other ballon rallies, 17 balloonists from Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana got together with a handful of other volunteers and started the Alabama Jubilee.
Initially the Jubilee also served as a showcase for the new Decatur balloon, one of the first hot air balloons to represent a city, and as an event to kick off Alabama's tourism season. Today, the Jubilee draws about 60 pilots from 20 states for two days of competition during the annual Memorial Day holiday weekend and serves not only as a showcase for the City of Decatur but as a must-attend community event that draws visitors for all over the country.
The continued popularity of the Alabama Jubilee prompted the Alabama Legislature to designate the City of Decatur as the “Ballooning Capital of Alabama.” The Jubilee has also been named a Top 20 Tourism Event in the Southeast for May by the Atlanta-based Southeast Tourism Society.