Albuquerque, NM – October 4-12 marked the 43rd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This year there were 548 registered balloon teams, including 106 special shape balloons and seven gas balloons.
Balloons representing 22 countries filled Albuquerque skies during the nine-day event, including those from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Lithuania, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States. There were 40 states represented in this year’s Balloon Fiesta.
Balloon Fiesta’s estimated attendance was 848,393 visits. The number is down slightly from 2013’s estimated 883,685. The main reason for the decreased attendance this year could be attributed to the weather. While there was great weather throughout the week, wind, and a couple of brief bouts with rain, caused an issue for afternoon events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the final Sunday morning event. In all, 10 of the scheduled 14 sessions were successful this year. Also in attendance were 869 media representatives from more than 131 organizations.
This year marked the second annual Music Fiesta, a star-studded country music concert on the final Saturday of the Balloon Fiesta featuring Josh Turner, David Nail, Sawyer Brown, and County Road 5. The concert preceded the announcement of the 2014 Film Fest winners as each of the team’s videos were presented and shown on the big screen. This year, a film team from the University of New Mexico won first place and will have their video shown on Comcast’s local On Demand product.
Seven teams from around the world competed in this year’s America’s Challenge Gas Race. First place winners, Anulfo Gonzalez and Angel Aguirre of Spain ended their winning race after traveling 1,188 miles. Second place went to Krzysztof Zapart and Mateusz Rekas (Poland), Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke (USA) took third, Heinz-Otto Lausch and Marion Lausch (Germany) took fourth, Philip Bryant and Andy Cayton (USA) took fifth, Cheri White and Mark Sullivan (USA) took sixth and Bert Padelt and Mike Emich (USA) came in seventh.
The $10,000 first prize in the hot air overall competition was awarded to Harold (Bubba) Cliver, of Texas. Second place winner was Chris Liberti of Colorado and third went to Lewin Williams, of Nevada. Michael Bauwens of Utah took home the prize for the Sid Cutter Memorial Challenge.
The 44th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, with the theme “Where Dreams Take Flight” is scheduled to launch October 3-11, 2015.
About the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual festival of hot air balloons that takes place every October in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. It is the largest gathering of balloons and balloonists in the world. For details on events, schedule, entertainment and photographs visit our website www.balloonfiesta.com and follow us in on Twitter @BalloonFiesta and Facebook.