MACON, Ga. — Saint Patrick's Day just over a week away and Dublin is already kicking off the month with events to celebrate! Sabrina Burse visited the Southern Pines Regional Park for the free festival to see how Dublin used hot air balloons to light the sky. 

Hundreds of people met for the 54th festival in a row, but this year they had more hot air balloons than any other year. 

RELATED: Just Curious: How did Dublin get its name?

"Love, love, love watching the balloons go up in the air," said Kate Mills. 

Mills says she's attended the festival in years past.

"I have the sweetest memories with my grandparents bringing me when I was little so I love it and I look forward to it every year," said Mills. 

First timers like Lorraine Warden say they appreciate the little things. 

"This big huge field for them to run and play and it's safe and away from the streets means a lot to me because you wear them out and they sleep much better at night," said Warden. 

Lines formed for some tasty barbecue.

"That's definitely going to be the best part, eating all the good food," said Sydnee Harrison. 

RELATED: East Dublin plant brings jobs, renewable energy to Laurens Co.

Harrison says she feels like the kids benefit from events like these. 

"Seeing everybody in their community come together as a big group of people and just being that little and seeing something as big as a hot air balloon, that's going to make their whole entire lives," said Harrison. 

And what would a festival be without a carnival ride? That paired with some bouncy houses and the movie "Up" to fit the occasion.

"We all come out and just feel like one big family," said Mills. 

The fun continues Saturday around 6 p.m. It's $10 to ride on a tethered hot air balloon and $200 for a sky ride.