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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Balloons and Tunes Lifts Spirits

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Each year, our little corner of the world becomes a vibrant, colorful canvas as hot air balloons take to our Southern New Mexico skies. Last weekend Artesia celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Balloons and Tunes Festival. The event brought together residents, tourists, and adventurers alike to experience the beauty of flight and celebrate the unique spirit of our beloved town. 

Beautiful weather allowed pilots to ascend for Friday fun flights from Artesia Schools. Fourteen balloons flew on Friday morning from nine schools, including Artesia Classical Academy this year! I had the opportunity to help crew a balloon liftoff with the family of Darrell Fear, a local hot air balloon extraordinaire who passed away in August of this year. His son Robert and other family members gathered to honor their tradition of flying from Hermosa School where their mother, Diana Fear once taught. It was an emotional experience as I watched the balloon take off, I was reminded of the magic that can be found right there in our own back yard. Speaking of, it was reported that several residents quite literally had balloons landing in their back yards.

On Friday evening, the first annual Balloon, Brews, and Bands event hosted by the Artesia Arts Council, Artesia MainStreet, and Artesia Chamber of Commerce took place across from City Hall. The balloon pilots coordinated with the Artesia High School Marching Band and Cheerleaders for their annual fire concert that created a very festive atmosphere. Local musicians, Dr. Michael Mann, Zeke Montoya, Chance Coats, Mason Hays, and the band SHILO provided live music for the benefit of the Artesia Arts Council! It was so great to see the community out and mingling, neighbors became friends and visitors became honorary townsfolk all with a beautiful balloon mural backdrop.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings Eagle Draw Park was buzzing with people excited to see the sunrise liftoffs! There were over 20 Balloons participating this year, including a special shape, Smokey Bear! Passengers lucky enough to secure a spot in a balloon’s basket experience an adventure like no other as they viewed our town from a whole new perspective. On the ground, vendors provided hot cocoa, coffee, and breakfast burritos and music was provided by KSVP.   

The Artesia Chamber of Commerce has worked tirelessly for 40 years to provide this amazing event for the community, and it just gets better every year! Jessica Bollema (Communications Coordinator for the Chamber) expressed, “The festival is not just about the balloons; it’s about fostering a sense of unity and togetherness in Artesia.”

This year’s sponsors including Critter Care Center, Sun Country Homes & Gardens, Best Western Pecos Inn, Harvey & Simons, Chase Foundation, J.S. Ward & Son, Artesia General Hospital, Collins Construction, Brandon & Bianca Madrid Family, Xcel Energy, EOG Resources, CLEAResult, 42 Construction, PVT, HF Sinclair, The LaPointe Family, The Grousnick Family, SPUR Energy, Permian Construction, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Hamilton Roofing, Pecos Valley Equipment. Special thanks to KSVP for tunes at the park, Sunbelt for light tower rentals, Royal Services for Port-a-Johns at the park, and The City of Artesia for use of the park and streets. 

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