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2014 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta launches Saturday

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s hard to keep a secret, especially about something so large.

Of the 11 new special shape balloons to fly at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, one of them is being kept under wraps until the first mass ascension. According to Event Director Don Edwards, the balloon is from a foreign country “and this will be its first appearance anywhere in the world.”

The 43rd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta runs from Oct. 4-12. The theme is “Spirit of the Winds.”

Be sure to buy the Friday, Oct. 3 Albuquerque Journal newspaper to get your collectors’ special section with more than 36-pages about the Fiesta

And download our app for your on-the-go Fiesta needs, available on Apple and Android devices!

Ten official pins and a special framed pin set have been created to mark the occasion. This year’s fiesta features 559 balloons, of which 100 are special shapes.

Among the new special shape balloons are a frog, an owl, a snail, a whale, a penguin and a dinosaur.

Mass ascensions are scheduled for 7 a.m. Oct. 4, 5, 8 (Flight of the Nations), 11 and 12. Special Shape Rodeos are scheduled for 7 a.m. Oct. 9 and 10, with Special Shape Glowdeo events to take place those evenings starting at 5:45 p.m.

A truly international event, the Balloon Fiesta this year will be host to pilots from 21 foreign countries, including first-time attendee Monaco.

Other countries represented will be Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Also debuting this year is the Blue Sky Pavilion, a private, upscale 40-foot by 40-foot heated tent on the balloon field that can be rented for special events.

The pavilion, which can accommodate up to 100 people, comes with general admission tickets, parking passes, catering, décor, private restrooms and on-site staff assistance.

Visitors to the Balloon Fiesta this year will have their choice of purchasing food, goods and services from 173 concession booths, that combined take up 1,770 linear frontage feet along concession row, says Jennifer Garcia, the fiesta’s RV and concessions manager.

One new company, PlusBlue Solutions, provides an innovative service with rentable portable chargers that are compatible with the most popular cameras, smartphones, tablets and other devices that use a USB port.

“Everybody takes so many pictures at fiesta that batteries drain quickly,” Garcia says. “There’s nothing worse than having a great photo opportunity and a dead battery.”

An artisans tent at the south end of concession row will host space for 40 artists participating in juried art shows in a variety of categories, including painting, sculpture, pottery, photography, jewelry and other crafts. Artists will also be on hand doing demonstrations and juried pieces will also be available for purchase, Garcia says.