ABF: Canceled Balloon Fiesta leaves $180 million hole


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta won't takeoff in 2020 because of COVID-19.

Safety concerns forced organizers to postpone the event until next year. Unfortunately, that leaves a pretty big hole in the local economy.

'We have heard from hotels for years that Balloon Fiesta is one of their busiest times of year. Typically, it books up months and months in advance. And trying to get a hotel room on that weekend can cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars,' said Rachel Sams, editor-in-chief for Albuquerque Business First.

Sams told KOB 4 the decision to postpone the event was not a surprise.

'The fiesta was incurring expenses and spending money in order to prepare for the event and they were increasingly facing the possibility that if they could not have mass gatherings at that time that they would not be able to recoup that money with the proceeds from the festival,' said Sams.

According to Sams, the lack of a Balloon Fiesta this year will hurt everyone from vendors to hotels.

'Obviously, the vendors that are out there on the field selling food and selling concessions but also vendors in town - souvenir shops are going to be busier, typically, at that time because there's more foot traffic around,' she said.

Sams said she expects mass gatherings like the Balloon Fiesta and other festivals to be one of the last things that rebound from the pandemic.

'And we're learning that those things that we've taken for granted,' she said.

'This year is very different as we work to stem the spread of this virus,' Sams added.

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