In 1983, a few families got together and argued over who had the best Spiedie recipe in Binghamton. Spiedies are small pieces of marinated meat (lamb, chicken, pork or beef) that can be skewered and then grilled. To put an end to their friendly rivalry, they held the first Spiedie Fest Cooking Contests in 1983 and 1984. After a successful contest in 1984, a small committee formed and it was decided to create the first SpiedieFest and Balloon Rally at Otsiningo Park with about 5 hot air balloons, some local music and a small children's area. The goal was simple, to host a safe, fun, affordable event in which our community would be proud. The first year had an attendance of approximately 4,000.
We now host what is considered one of the top hot air balloon rallies in the country drawing over 100,000 admissions each year. Our philosophy remains the same now as it was in 1984: provide a safe, fun and affordable weekend for our community.
In 2001, we were recognized by the Library of Congress with a Legacy Award and today a SpiedieFest display resides in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The same year the festival was also recognized with an award from Syracuse Parks & Recreation as the Event of the Year for New York State. In 2005, the festival was named one of the 100 Destinations in the US by Destination Magazine. The Food Channel ran an episode on the SpiedieFest and Balloon Rally featuring the spiedie cooking contest and is still running today.
We have been named one of the top events by the Press & Sun Bulletin Readers' Choice Awards every year since the contest began.