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New Balloon Fiesta booth rental policy wins plaudits

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Maybe a fiesta food fight can be averted in 2013.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta announced Thursday it has retained Ovations Food Services as its food concessions manager, but that the new agreement includes changes to the controversial booth-rental policy.

Food vendors once again have the option of paying rent on a flat-fee basis, though the new rate is 15 percent higher than the old flat rate.

One longtime vendor called the terms “very reasonable.”

In fact, Perico’s founder Matty Romero — who sat out the 2012 fiesta due to concerns over rental rates — said he would gladly apply to return under the new arrangement.

The fiesta hired Ovations in 2012 to oversee its food sales, marking the first time an outside company handled the job.

Under Ovations’ oversight, the food vendor rental policy shifted away from the customary flat-rate model. Food sellers in 2012 were required to turn over 30 percent of their gross sales or pay the old flat rate (starting at $3,350 per 10 feet of frontage) — whichever was higher. Vendors said their rents soared — forcing them to raise prices for customers — and bristled at the rigorous amount of booth inventorying required under a percent-of-sales model.

In 2013, vendors can choose between two rent options:
— This article appeared on page B01 of the Albuquerque Journal

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