Updated: January 12, 2022 07:26 PM
Created: January 12, 2022 04:40 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Balloon Fiesta returned in a big way last year. About 784,000 people showed up to see New Mexico's largest event.
More than 500 balloons took to the sky, but there was one thing missing: a title sponsor. On Wednesday, that changed.
“When 13 hot air balloons first launched at Coronado Mall in 1972, we knew this was the beginning of something special,” said Al Tetrault, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta president.
Hundreds of thousands of people travel to Albuquerque each year to experience the magic of hundreds of hot air balloons taking flight.
“Balloon Fiesta perhaps better than any other event showcases the true beauty of the Land of Enchantment,” said Rick Cannon, Exxon Mobile production manager.
As the city approaches Balloon Fiesta's 50th anniversary this October, there will be a new title sponsor powering the event, Exxon Mobile.
After three years of sponsoring the Balloon Fiesta, the oil company signed up to be the presenting sponsor of the next three Balloon Fiesta events. The previous one, Canon, did not part with the Balloon Fiesta on good terms.
In May 2021, Canon filed a lawsuit against the Balloon Fiesta. The dispute was over whether the Balloon Fiesta broke its contract with the company by not holding an event in 2020. That lawsuit was settled out of court in November. It's not clear how much the Balloon Fiesta paid out to Canon.
“Together with our new presenting sponsor, we hope to show the world an even better Fiesta and bring in even more economic benefit to New Mexico,” said Tetrault.
According to Balloon Fiesta officials, the event brought in nearly $187 million to the state over nine days in 2019. The vast majority of that coming from out-of-state visitors.
Balloon Fiesta officials say in 2019, 71% of Balloon Fiesta attendees came from out of state.
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