Former NFL player turned Louisburg farmer hosting Memorial Day hot air balloon fest honoring fallen

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, First Fruits Farm Memorial Balloon Festival will soar over a one thousand acre farm in Louisburg.

The festival will serve to honor the fallen and is personal for the farm owner, former NFL player Jason Brown.

Brown comes from a Gold Star family losing his brother, Lunsford, to a mortar attack while he served as an Army Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan in 2003.

"His service convicted me to my core as to what more can I do to make a difference and to give back," Brown said. "And I just want to honor his memory and his legacy, and definitely honor everyone else for all the Gold Star families."

Brown is a former NFL lineman who had signed a $37.5 million contract at the age of 26. He says he felt a calling to live a life of service after his lucrative professional football career.

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Brown returned to his roots in North Carolina, becoming a farmer who helps to feed the hungry and now uses his land as a place to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"There are some somber moments, of course, we're going to have the field of flags, you know, times where we can you know just sit, be at peace, calm and have reflection," Brown said. "But also, you know, to celebrate life, to celebrate the freedoms that they fought for that we're able to have right now."

Tickets are available for the three-day festival. Admission is free on Monday, Memorial Day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Brown said they are still looking for volunteers for the inaugural event.

"We have one of the most beautiful parts of our farm, and I've always called it the park area," Brown said. "And, one thing that I always knew I was going to do is dedicate that park area, in honor of Lunsford, as a memorial. So, it's going to be called the Lunsford Bernard Brown II Memorial Park. And, I gotta tell you what, a festival like this would be right down his alley."

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