For Comparison’s Sake

Since the 2012 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicked off this weekend, I decided to take a meander down memory lane.

For my Albuquerque folks watching the balloons this year, I present photos from my family’s archives as evidence of what the balloon fiesta looked like in 1977:

Ah yes, I’ve mentioned before on this blog about my love for that blue on bottom white on top 1971 Chevy Blazer my family drove around as I was growing up. My goodness I loved that truck.

This photo just goes to show you that back in the day, the Balloon Fiesta was a big open field and spectators simply drove up and parked. And we helped. If you were standing idly, the balloonists would shout at you to help, even if you were a kid. We held and shook the envelope while that big burner whooshed hot air into the balloon as slowly it rose from the ground.

It’s a visceral event that still gets to me, even today.

I always loved this purple and white balloon and I believe when I went to the 2010 event I saw either this exact same balloon or one of it’s replicas. I love that this balloon is still up in the Albuquerque sky on a cold October morning.

And the basket and burner. Such the epitome of the event is the sight of firey flames shooting upward. That sound as the whoosh fills the air. That feeling as heat blows back. Watching the envelope shudder and move. The smell of fuel. Truly an assault on every one of the five senses.


I had planned to go to the Balloon Fiesta this year, and then, as you know, the best laid plans of mice and men and stressed out overworked girls in the Bay Area.

Oh yes, I also have this already scanned. Here is the 1976 balloon fiesta. For some reason I only have the one photo in my album. That’s me walking with my dad and older brother. My mom must have taken the photo. My dad loved the balloons and couldn’t resist helping every pilot who asked (or didn’t ask).

Ah Albuquerque, my hometown, how I wish I could be with you this week. As the Balloon Fiesta snarls traffic and causes everyone’s noses to point skyward, I’d love to have a breakfast burrito and a hot chocolate and cry a little and laugh a little and love every minute of it all.

My last Balloon Fiesta was 2010 and I gotta get The Good Man out there so he can understand too.

I follow Neil Patrick Harris, a good New Mexico native son, on Twitter and he’s been tweeting that he took his family to ABQ for the Balloon Fiesta. After the events on Sunday, they went and ate at El Pinto.

I’m so damn jealous I can hardly stand myself.

Anyhow. Off to Monday and a drab ol’ day at work with no ornaments in my sky.


Miss you, my Fair New Mexico.

Photos from the family archives are Copyright 1976 and 1977 Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Be respectful with my memories, please.

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  • Natalie

    Great photos. We moved here in 1972 and saw the first one. Well, truth be told, we saw a rather terrifying crash-two balloons hung up on electrical wires, tangled, then dropped. I thought they were crazy mofos. Still do! There is no way in hell I’d go up in one of those balloons but I do love me some breakfast burrito, coffee, and people/balloon watching.
    My favorites are the kissing bees.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Natalie – My family was also at that first one. I believe it was held in the parking lot at Winrock Center.

      The old Cutter Field location was great because the flight path took the balloons over our house in the Northeast Heights. I used to run out to the backyard and wave to the pilots!

      Good memories.

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