Albuquerque Worldwide Balloon Fiesta attendance figures printed

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The numbers are okay, although fewer guests have been seen this year. The organizers of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta are pleased with the turnout. Especially since last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.

“I thought we could achieve a reduction of around 20% compared to previous years. So I was really surprised and pleased that I got a 10% discount on what we did in 2019, ”said Sam Parks, Operations Manager at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Parks said they sold a record amount of tickets in the 24 hours that tickets went on sale in July when the state fully reopened. However, he said online sales collapsed when the Delta variant became dominant across the state. In 2021, Balloon Fiesta saw 783,866 guests, compared to 866,414 guests in 2019.

“No, that’s not surprising considering that people are still reluctant to travel, I think, and maybe some people are still put off by mask mandates,” said Joe Reichert, a resident of Albuquerque.

“It surprises me in the sense that I know that people really want out, they want to go to events because they have been postponed. So I would expect a lot of people to leave. But I’m not surprised either, because I feel like there might be fewer tourists this year, ”said Mary Ann Maestas, another Albuquerque resident. “I wasn’t there this year because I knew it was going to be very crowded and I didn’t want to deal with the crowds even though I was vaccinated.”

Parks said one of the biggest challenges was international travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

“Many of our international balloonists couldn’t come here. So instead of 70 or 80 international pilots, we only had six, ”said Parks. He said they also had fewer special forms.

“Instead of 100-110 special shapes, we only had 80. So this year we were reduced due to travel restrictions. But people came out and we were happy to see them come out and see the show we had. Because we had 543 hot air balloons and that was still the biggest show in the world, ”said Parks.

Parks said they expect a big turnout next year as it will be the 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. He said they are planning some new events for the anniversary. The 50th Balloon Fiesta will take place from October 1st to 9th, 2022 and ticket sales will start in April.

The following are additional numbers for the 49th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta:

  • Total number of registered hot air balloons: 543
  • Total number of registered balloons in special form: 84
  • Total number of registered pilots (primary and additional): 648
  • America’s Challenge Gas Race Teams Total: 4
  • Total estimated visitor visits: 783,866
  • Total number of media organizations: 138
  • Total registered media representatives: 787
  • Total Balloon Fiesta Live Views: 693,043

Balloon Fiesta officials say seven countries from Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States were represented this year. They say that Noah Forden and Bert Padelt from the USA were the winners of the 24th America’s Challenge. Forden and Padelt flew 356.20 miles and landed near Big Spring, Texas.

They say that first prize in the overall hot air competition was Zerek Welz from New Mexico and the second highest overall score went to Ray Bair of New Mexico and third to Joe Zvada of Texas.

Finally, Balloon Fiesta officials say more than 950 volunteers worked on this year’s fiesta and there were 650 landowners picking up X-packs to mark their land as an approved balloonist landing site.

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