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Four Corners Balloon Rally launches weekend of music, flights

Rally features concert by The Guess Who, daily launches
Pilot Daniel Backes and his wife, Jenifer, of Florence, Ariz., plan to launch their balloon Saturday and Sunday mornings in Farmington during the Four Corners Balloon Rally. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)

A handful of balloons lifted into clear skies Friday morning over Lake Farmington, launching an inaugural three-day festival that will feature live music Saturday night by the popular 1970s rock band The Guess Who and include vendors and balloon glows Friday and Saturday nights.

Each morning, a mass ascension will kick off the eventful weekend, weather permitting. As of Friday, 21 balloonists had registered for the rally, said Farmington Public Affairs Administrator Georgette Allen.

For pilot Daniel Backes of Florence, Arizona, the Four Corners Balloon Rally gives him and his wife, Jenifer, the chance to engage in their favorite recreational pursuit.

“I have grown up around this my entire life, got my student pilot license at 14,” Backes said, “and have logged a lifetime of (ballooning) hours. Then, a couple of years ago, I was able to afford my own balloon.”

He and Jenifer participated in balloon events in Deming, New Mexico, and Windsor, Colorado, earlier this year. But the Farmington rally “kicks off the season,” Daniel Backes said.

Morning winds prevented the Backeses from launching Friday, but the couple anticipated no obstacles Saturday and Sunday.

Their next destination is the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, which will celebrate its 50th-anniversary festival Oct. 1-9.

In addition to morning flights, spectators can expect a weekend of sights and sounds at the rally.

After the balloon glow from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Henderson Fine Arts Center parking lot, Emmy Award-winning singer and songwriter Patrick Sieben and his band, Patrick and the Las Vegas Band, performed at Henderson Hall at San Juan Community College.

The renowned band, which includes a full horn section, performs a mix of pop, classic hits and original songs. Sieben has performed with bands including Bon Jovi, One Republic, The Chainsmokers, Vanilla Ice, Toto and Yes in venues worldwide.

His new hit, “Sunshine,” from his sophomore release, “Under the Neon Lights,” is heating up in England. The audience is invited to sing along and dance in the aisles.

A mass ascension from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday and a balloon glow at Justis Park from 6 to 8 p.m. will be followed by The Guess Who. The band, originally from Canada, is known for hits including “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “American Woman,” “No Sugar Tonight,” “Hand Me Down World” and “Share the Land.”

The city of Farmington is hosting the 2022 event, along with the help of sponsorships from local businesses.

Visit: https://farmingtonnm.org/events/four-corners-balloon-rally to learn more.

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