15 Years at Fiesta
When I saw the green star next to my name in the program for the 30th Annual Rio Grande Balloon show, I discovered it meant my fifteenth consecutive year participating in the show. My disbelieving brain had me check my records, and yep, in 2004 I did my first Balloon Fiesta show on the second of the two weekends.
Over the years, this show has become one of my favorite ones to do. The promoters are first rate. The quality of art is very high. The balloons ascending each morning is always a joyous sight. But most importantly, the customer interaction at this show never fails to remind me why I became an artist in the first place.
One of my fondest memories of this show came in 2006. It was the year my first book, The Gekkleberry Tree, was published and for sale at the show. For the first time, I had a real-life, actual line of customers waiting to make a purchase at my booth. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was a nervous first-time author trying to sign books and that delayed the purchase process or maybe it was a genuine marker of creative success. Either way, I treasure the memory.
In addition, I’ve had some memorable experiences in New Mexico outside of the art festival. As an avid mountain biker, I always bring my bike on this annual two-week trip and go exploring on my days off. There are some beautiful trails in ABQ, Gallup and Tijeras. I’ve had the opportunity to take my kids and extended family onto the field and gaze up in wonder at the mass ascension. I got the chance to be interviewed on the local news about my hot-air balloon storybook, The Magnificent Race, in 2015. But my favorite adventure, was our family trip to the rattlesnake museum in Old Town ABQ. What can I say, I’m a reptile fan.
Each year I try to debut as much new artwork as possible at this show. My customer base in ABQ is keenly aware of what is new and what is not, so I do my best to populate my booth with new and exciting images.
This year, customers were surprised to see I have been exploring concepts with animals outside of the reptile kingdom. This year I had crabs playing golf on the beach, a family of owls in a treehouse and a momma tarantula trying to keep track of her many babies. I look forward to getting back to work on new ideas I will bring to the 2019 show.