The Real Fiesta Emerges

In spite of a shoestring budget, the 1975 World Championships/International Balloon Fiesta was a huge success. The move to Simms Field gave the spectators a wonderful opportunity to become more involved with the balloonists by sharing the field with them as they launched and flew over the field during the competition. This spectator participation has become an integral part of the Balloon Fiesta's character ever since. Changes in the competitive events placed less emphasis on the barograph, so prominent and controversial in the '73 Championships. And the significant increase in the number of "fun flyers" and innovative Fiesta events add more of the Albuquerque spirit to the overall event. The beautiful October weather was also credited with pushing attendance up to nearly 150,000 spectators.

The final day of the 1975 World Championships marked the end of an era for the Balloon Fiesta. Although Sid Cutter and Tom Rutherford organized the event, it was their last, as the baton had been passed to the City, which immediately transferred responsibility to the newly formed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Inc. (AIBF). This non-profit corporation was created for the sole purpose of putting on all future Fiestas. No longer would the Balloon Fiesta include world championship competition. Albuquerque had discovered that it was better at providing fun-loving, southwestern hospitality than at organizing strict, high-pressured competitive championship races.

1976 set the pattern for all Balloon Fiestas to come. For the first Fiesta run entirely by the new AIBF, Bob Ruppenthal was named Balloonmeister and he organized races that would be fun first, and determine prizes second. Pilot disputes were to be resolved with water balloon fights. The new credo of the Balloon Fiesta became "The pilot that has the most fun is the one that wins".

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