Down Memory Lane
Reprint from the 1991 Balloon Fiesta Souvenir Program.
From a small gathering of 13 balloons in 1972, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world. Held each year during the first week in October, the Balloon Fiesta attracts hundreds of thousands of guests to Balloon Fiesta Park to experience a nine-day extravaganza of color and excitement, celebrating the world's oldest aviation sport, ballooning. The event not only features hot air balloons but also the prestigious gas balloons.
Many Balloon Fiesta oldtimers talk about the year there were two Fiestas. It was 1975. With the 1974 event in February and the 1975 world championships not scheduled until October, there was concern that Albuquerque might lose its Fiesta enthusiasm. Plus, the growing community of Albuquerque balloonists had become large enough to put on an event of its own.
In February of 1975, about 40 balloons from 8 states gathered at the Fairgrounds to hold the first Cloudbouncer Rally, or Fiesta "3-1/2". This locally-inspired event proved to be the forerunner of today's Friends and Lovers Rally, which is still held each February around Valentine's Day.