The beautiful mountain town of Taos, New Mexico, has a lot to offer for your next big fall excursion including a rich artisan scene and a variety of fun local festivals. The Taos Mountain Balloon Rally has been a local staple since 1981 and is ramping up for another great year in 2016. The event is a major celebration of ballooning with more than 30 balloons and crews participating. Each morning is a can't miss sight as the numerous balloons rise into the morning air, showing off their vibrant colors. On Saturday afternoon, there will be a parade through town featuring many of the pilots, crews, and sponsors of the event. Saturday evening wraps up with a “glow”, where all the balloons line up on the ground to show off their burners and beautiful designs. We got the chance to interview Neomi Martinez-Standard, Taos Mountain Balloon Rally Association Board Treasurer, and Event Coordinator, to talk about this great ballooning event.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
NMS: The 1st Taos Mountain Balloon Rally started back in 1981.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
NMS: We have on average 35 balloons, 30 sponsors, and 20 hotels, motels, and B&B that donate rooms. In our annual parade, we have about 50 groups participate.
RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?
NMS: Everyone is encouraged to come out and join us. No one is left out and we have entertainment for all ages.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
NMS: When the rally started in the 80's, it was the only event after Labor Day. Also, this time of year is beautiful in Taos. The trees are changing colors and the balloons paint the sky.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
NMS: Friday morning we have our tether ride for school-aged students. Friday evening we have pilot and sponsor registration that brings our sponsors and pilots together. Saturday morning starts with patrol at dawn, and when we get the “all clear”, pilots get ready to fly. At 12:30 pm, we start lining up for our parade that ends at Kit Carson Park with a picnic. As dusk sets on Saturday the pilots prep for the glow. Sunday morning is the farewell accession at dawn.
RAL: What will attendees find for dining options?
NMS: The wonderful restaurants of our town will be open during the event. You won't have any trouble finding the food you're looking for.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
NMS: The environment is fun, exciting, and weather permitting. The mornings and evenings are cool and the fall season here is beautiful and temperate.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
NMS: There are a bunch of lodging options in and around town. Some may give a discount if they mention TMBRA.
RAL: Is there maybe one place in particular that guests have been flocking to since the event started?
NMS: The launch field is location on Albright street, behind the Taos County Courthouse.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
NMS: Yes, most of the pilots are from out of town. They bring crews that need lodging and places to eat. When the crews and pilots have downtime, they visit the local businesses. We also see many tourists make their way to Taos to watch the event.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community? (School funds, etc.)
NMS: Yes, we give out a high school scholarship.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
NMS: It is a free family event! Taos itself is a special place, with many things that visitors can do including hiking, shopping, dining, and sightseeing.
For more information about the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally, please visit their website at www.taosballoonrally.com.