Albuquerque businesses impacted by canceled Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Multiple business owners in New Mexico have said this October could prove challenging for their businesses since the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which brings tourists from around the world, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Any time an event that brings in 750,000 people gets canceled, there is no question that that will have a very negative impact on the economy,” Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce CEO Terri Cole said.

Aceves Old Town Basket & Rug Shop owner Karen Aceves and Steel Bender Brewyard co-owner Shelby Chant were two of many business owners who said the event coincides with their busiest time of year.

California-based commerce data company Womply reported that arts and entertainment businesses in the area bring a 194% increase in revenue on average during the Balloon Fiesta. The event is comparable to Louisville’s Kentucky Derby or Phoenix’s Cactus League, Womply Vice President Brad Plothow said.

Last year, the event drew nearly 600 balloons from across the nation and 17 foreign countries, generated an estimated economic impact on the Albuquerque area of more than $186 million and $6.5 million in tax revenues for the state.

“It is sad but it’s the situation that we’re in now,” Chant said. “People return this week because they know about Balloons and Brews or their family makes sure to bring them here, so I believe we’ve had some people who have come in and are missing it as much as we are.”

City officials announced in September that they were planning to host a new, smaller event named the Balloon Fall Fest in its replacement. Balloons launched Sunday in tradition from various sites across the city including Balloon Fiesta Park, Ventana Ranch Park, Mariposa Basin Park, Vista del Norte Park and North Domingo Baca Park.

Despite the effort, Aceves said this October would not be the same and considered bringing out the store's balloon-themed decorations to capture some of the longed feeling.

“You know, have a fiesta with the Fiesta,” she said.