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County aims to draw Balloon Fiesta tourists to local events

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Bernalillo County is hoping Balloon Fiesta tourists will spend a little extra time in Albuquerque before visiting Santa Fe.

The county has scheduled eight community events to coincide with the fiesta, which starts Saturday and runs through the following weekend. The county is also doing more to advertise the events to fiesta-goers.

“It’s a very targeted effort on our part to keep people here,” County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley said in a recent interview.

The Fiesta de Alameda celebration in the North Valley, for example, used to be in April, but the county moved it to the fall with hopes that Balloon Fiesta visitors will give it a try. The event, on Saturday, will feature seven food trucks, a chile cook-off, dessert contest and other activities.

“It’s an opportunity for people visiting to see the county through the people who live here,” O’Malley said.

A celebration in the East Mountains is also planned, on Sunday, in Tijeras, with local music and free activities.

The following weekend, local restaurants and breweries will show off at the “Taste of New Mexico” event at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

The county spent about $26,000 advertising the fall lineup of events.

County spokesman Andy Lenderman said officials “believe this is a good investment in creating tourism jobs and more economic opportunity in Central New Mexico.”

The county, of course, is also hoping for a hefty turnout of local residents.

The events scheduled this weekend are:

• Learn about nature journaling along the Rio Grande bosque at the Bachechi Open Space, 9521 Rio Grande NW, from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

• Fiesta de Alameda at the Raymond G. Sanchez Community Center, 9800 Fourth NW, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

• Learn about open-air pottery firing at the Bachechi Open Space from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

• East Mountains celebration at Los Vecinos Community Center, 478½ Old Highway 66 in Tijeras, on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

The events next weekend are:

• Learn more about animals and wildlife corridors in the Albuquerque area, at the Bachechi Open Space, 10 a.m. to noon, Oct. 12.

• Local arts and crafts vendors will be at the “Bridge to the Arts” event at South Valley Gateway Park, 100 Isleta SW, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 12.

• Taste of New Mexico at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 12 and 13.

• Local food festival and field day at the Gutierrez-Hubbell House, 6029 Isleta SW, Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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