OCT. 6-14 2018

A Fork in the Road

After the 1974 Balloon Fiesta, it was decided that launching from the Fairgrounds was causing too many problems for the airport and responsible for too many landings in the military base. It was also becoming too small for the anticipated growth in the number of balloons anticipated to fly in 1975. February was also proving to be one of the worst months of the year to fly balloons. Combine this with the fact that Sid Cutter was "enjoying about all of the financial rewards of financing these events that he could stand" and the Balloon Fiesta had arrived at a critical moment in its history

Enter Mayor Harry Kinney. With the second World Championships looming on the horizon, Sid Cutter and Tom Rutherford, with the help of Charlie Hines, went to the City for help. It was clear that if Albuquerque did not host this event that another city would jump at the chance. Albuquerque's status in the world balloon community might suffer in spite of all the dedicated work that had been done and all of the success the community had enjoyed. Without hesitation, Mayor Kinney enthusiastically pledged the City's support. Don Draper was put on the city payroll and a City Committee was formed to organize the event. An old alfalfa field owned by the Simms family was made available. It was larger and farther north than the Fairgrounds. City road crews set to the task of grading and preparing the site and local police and refuse workers were pledged to direct traffic and haul trash from the field. Sheri Bachtell Moore took the administration and bookkeeping into her office at the Chamber of Commerce and the corps of Balloon Fiesta volunteers continued to grow. The organizers went back to the weather charts and discovered that October would be a more ideal time to hold a Balloon Fiesta and so the schedule was set. The City had now officially embraced the event as its own, and the Balloon Fiesta had survived a significant turning point.

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