Editor's Note: The article below is accompanied by a photo story by Colton Newman titled "The People of Balloon Fiesta." For full explanation of the concept of the photo story, please read the Oct. 8, 2018 print issue of the Daily Lobo.
The 47th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicked off this weekend with hundreds of balloons and thousands of spectators, with some balloons ascending and some remaining static due to weather limitations.
Balloonists from all over the world gather in Albuquerque every year to celebrate the unique story that each balloon tells, featuring balloonists from Great Britain and Ireland, with a big flight of local Albuquerque balloons.
Each group of balloonists gives out collectable cards that state the home of the balloon, the balloon’s name and sometimes including information on the pilot. Another popular collectable item that attendee’s sport are traditional enamel pins.
Andrew Esparza, a 12-year-old Albuquerque resident, walked around decorated in annual enamel pins from previous Balloon Fiestas, with his two-foot tall hat covered with different pins, giving him an extra few inches of height. Esparza said he started collecting balloon cards when he first started coming to the event, but has now dove deep into the world of collecting Balloon Fiesta pins.
“One day I walked into a shop and someone gave me a pack of ten pins,” Esparza said. “Right now I have about 40 or 50 (pins).”
Esparza has been coming to the International Balloon Fiesta since he was about six years old, and began collecting pins a couple years after his first visit.
With attendees hailing from all across the world, like the balloons themselves, Montana-natives Carolyn and Brian Krebs are no different.
On Sunday, the Park & Ride service from Coronado Mall failed to transport attendees to the the Fiesta, the Krebs being part of that group.
“There was probably a thousand people behind us, but we didn’t get here either,” Carolyn said.
The Krebs said that it was their second time visiting the Balloon Fiesta, but due to inclimate weather and failed logistics they have never gotten to see the balloon ascension, and don’t plan on giving the Fiesta a try next year.
“We didn’t get to see a launch then either,” Brian said. “It’s (understandable) when (the balloons) can’t launch because of weather, but the logistics when they’ve done it for 45 plus years, seems a little frustrating.”
Jake Miller and Katherine Ganoung had an even more uplifting experience than the balloons — getting engaged in the middle of a sea of static balloons.
“(The Balloon Fiesta) has been something on our list to do for a while,” Ganoung said. “The balloon festival has just been incredible.”
Ganoung and Miller said they both enjoyed the variety of balloons the event had to offer.
“I like the animals, just because it’s something unique and not necessarily what you think of when you first think of a hot air balloon,” Miller said.
Ganoung said she liked to see the open field lit up with colorful balloons.
“The rainbows, and the checkers, all of it,” Ganoung said. “We’ve had fun collecting the cards, and walking around, asking the different balloonists for the trading cards and just being a part of all of it.”
“It’s the land of enchantment for a reason,” Miller said, with Ganoung adding, “So we’re here to be enchanted.”
Shayla Cunico is the culture editor and music editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ShaylaCunico.