Home News Local News Artesia hosts hot air balloon event for more than 40 years

Artesia hosts hot air balloon event for more than 40 years

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ARTESIA — Vicki Grousnick, the director of marketing and events for the Artesia Chamber of Commerce, said the community has been hosting hot air balloon events in one form or other since the 1970s.

“The date, the event, the format and the venue have changed off and on throughout the years,” she said.

Throughout its history Grousnick said the event has always been “intimate.”

“The pilots that have been coming, most of them have been coming for decades,” she said.

Balloons and Tunes is set for the weekend of Nov. 4.

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“We’re going to launch again from Eagle Draw again this year,” she said.

“Which is visually very beautiful to look down through that green belt and see balloon after balloon as the sun is coming up,” Grousnick added.

Grousnick said the balloon pilots come back to Artesia for the hospitality. She added most of the pilots that come to Artesia have participated in the International Balloon Fiesta, which took place earlier this month in Albuquerque and she said they look at Artesia as a way to, “enjoy the sport again.”

“It’s kind of like a homecoming,” she said.

Grousnick said if a person makes eye contact with the right person, they might be put to work to help inflate a balloon.

“You never know (someone) it maybe getting a chance to fly,” she said.

Grousnick said the pilots have traditionally flown from elementary schools across the community. The tentative date is Nov. 3.

“If we have enough pilots who are willing to fly on Friday then we will at least have a balloon at every elementary school,” she said.

She said the flights will depend on the pilot’s work schedules.

The next day lift off is set for 7 a.m., “and then Sunday, that will be at 6 a.m. and the reason is the time change,” Grousnick said.

That weekend area residents will need set their clocks back an hour as the state shifts from Mountain Daylight Time to Mountain Standard Time.

In past years the event was called Balloons and Bluegrass. “We brought in bluegrass bands and we did that for the first couple of years,” Grousnick said.

She added, “a few years ago we changed the event to be Balloons and Tunes to give us (Artesia Chamber of Commerce) some flexibility in what kinds of music was available during the weekend.”

Grousnick said the idea was to partner with the Artesia Arts Council and the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center rather than having chamber personnel doing everything. “That way we can focus more on the pilots and the crew and the sponsors,” Grousnick said.

She said the entertainment will kick off on Nov. 2 with The 3 Redneck Tenors at the OPAC. Since there is an Artesia High School football game on Nov. 3, there will be entertainment that night according to Grousnick.

“Saturday, the Artesia High School band and several of the pilots are going to work together to put on a fire concert,” she said.

Grousnick said the pilots will fire their burners in rhythm with the band music.

This year’s fire concert will be held in the parking lot between the Estelle H. Yates Auditorium and the Artesia Public Schools Administration Building and Training Center.

“We’ll have the pilots kind of line up in the parking lot and the band will be right there so the people can just kind of gather round from the sides and watch the fire concert,” she said.