ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta announced on Monday, June 22 that it will be postponing its 2020 festivities. This year’s 49th event is now rescheduled for October 2-10, 2021.
Due to COVID-19, Balloon Fiesta officials report may variables are out of their control and could potentially impact the health and welfare of fiesta attendees. Officials say the safety of pilots, guests, sponsors, staff, and volunteers is their top concern and due to the virus, they must remain dedicated to upholding that commitment.
“A lot of emphasis on the health order and the uncertainty that that’s spelled with us with the number of people allowed in large gatherings. And so, moving forward we just felt like this was the safest mode of operation,” Matt W. Guthrie, President of the Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors, said.
The Balloon Fiesta’s volunteer board of directors and 20-person staff state they brainstormed various ways to make this year’s event happen however, all plans would fail if someone contracted the virus as a result of attending the event.
Officials state that guest reservations, tickets, and RV spaces will be unchanged and can be used for the event in 2021. Those who are not able to join the event next year can find directions to accommodate other options on the Balloon Fiesta website and may seek a refund or donate their tickets.
In a letter on the Balloon Fiesta website by Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors President Matt W. Guthrie, health and safety, and financial responsibility contributed to the decision to postpone the event. This will be the first year since 1972 that they will not be able to hold an event.
Last year, the Balloon Fiesta brought around 866,414 guests to the city and created a total estimated economic impact on Albuquerque’s business volume of $186.82 million. Organizers recognize the toll this has on the local economy.
“We understand we need to make this decision sooner rather than later because there’s so many other businesses that rely on this event in October. So, not only did it put balloon fiesta in a vulnerable position to delay this decision, it also put those other businesses in a vulnerable position economically as well,” Parks said. “We felt like this decision needed to be made in a very timely fashion and we pushed it out as far as we can.”
“We are proud of the event Balloon Fiesta has grown into over the years. We know there is an entire community, city and state invested in its success, making this the most difficult decision we’ve ever faced as an organization,” said Guthrie in a press release. “This is certainly a setback, but we will remain committed to making this the best and brightest event in the world and can’t wait to see Balloon Fiesta Park once again filled with balloons and smiling faces.”
Organizers said they are already planning the 2021 event and are considering different ways to do it if COVID-19 is still a threat. They are also working ways people can still engage virtually with the Balloon Fiesta this year.
Statement from New Mexico Tourism Department on Balloon Fiesta cancellation:
We support the extremely difficult decision to postpone the 49th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Mexico Tourism Department has supported all efforts to keep the public safe – and we know this difficult decision was made with the health and safety of New Mexicans in mind.
The postponement of the Balloon Fiesta demonstrates how the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the tourism economy here in New Mexico and throughout the world. Tourism will be vital in our ability to rebound, but we still need to ensure public safety is our top priority. We look forward to collaborating with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and other community partners on the event in the future.New Mexico Tourism Department