Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Elephant Butte, NM United States
last weekend of August
Number of balloons: 50
Year began: 1980
The Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta© (EBBR) provides an opportunity for balloonists, skippers and sponsors to get together and have fun at Elephant Butte Lake New Mexico. Additionally, it provides the communities of Elephant Butte, Truth or Consequences and Williamsburg
The EBBR traces its history back to the 1970’s when balloonists would come to Elephant Butte for the Mother’s Day weekend, or in some years, the Easter weekend. The timing of the rally was generally dependent on when the balloonists decided that spring had arrived and it was time to go to “The Lake” and fly. The “Cloudbouncer” The official monthly publication of the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA or Quad A) March 1980 issue Announced “The Elephant Butte Mothers day Campout” to be held May 10 and 11. The March 1981 issue of the “Cloudbouncer” announced “The Greater Mesilla Valley Aerostat Ascension Association Annual Easter Fly-in” would be held April 18 and 19. In 1989 Oppenheimer industries donated $500 for prize money if the balloonists would fly over the lake to the Champagne Hills subdivision. The Coast Guard Auxiliary became concerned that balloons flying over the lake might get into trouble and provided five chase boats to ensure safety. This concern for safety lead to the formation of the EBBR and the Balloon Boat Relay Race© (BBRR). The BBRR provided a chase boat for each balloon forming a racing team. The skipper carried the drop marker, baton, for the balloon race out onto the lake. The balloonists then do a water landing, known as a "Splash and Dash", to receive the baton and carry it to the designated drop area. Prizes and/or prize money is then awarded to both the winning pilots and skippers. The Flying and boating has continued this tradition over the years. On July 1st 1998 the city of Elephant Butte was incorporated as the 101st city in the State of New Mexico. The new city chartered their own Chamber of Commerce in September 1999 and one of their first acts was to purchase the rights and copyrights to the Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta by unanimous vote.
In 2007, the Chamber decided to stop running the rally, and the rights were transferred to Kevin Cloney and Al Lowenstein.