Volunteering at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF)

UPDATE: It’s October 30th, 2018.  We left Albuquerque on Oct 9th, attended the RV Nomads Rally in Wellington, TX followed by the Texas Country Air(stream) Rally in Brownwood, TX then to Lake Colorado City State Park (TX) and now we are at Bottomless Lake State Park at Roswell, NM for a couple nights.  We are on our way to our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park (Casa Grande, AZ)

We just crossed the two year mark as full-time RV’ers. We’ve sold our Sticks n Bricks house in Ohio and lived virtually rent-free by Workamping our way around the country.

As Workampers, we stay at RV parks, campgrounds, and other places for free in exchange for (generally) about 12-20 hours per week working at the park or campground.

Very often parks and campgrounds want to bring on Workampers for the entire season .. usually 5 or 6 month stints.

We started the full-time RV lifestyle to see the country and soon realized that if we only move twice a year … or go back to the same place twice … then we’ll be about 130 years old by the time we see all the places we want to go!

As a result, we’ve been looking for shorter term gigs. That’s how we came to volunteer at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). We met our new good friends Matt and Sherry last winter at the Escapees RV Club “Rainbows End” park in Livingston, TX while we were all Workamping there.

Matt & Sherry Hylbom “Get Out The Map”

Matt and Sherry shared with us their experiences the previous fall working at the AIBF and it sounded exciting to us, so we reached out to the contact they gave us and here we are!

We arrived a full 3 weeks before the start of Fiesta, and we spent that time; chalking boundaries of all the 1600 RV parking spaces, stringing flag lines around the perimeter lines of each of the 40 or so parking areas, setting up the volunteer break tent with tables, chairs, fridge and freezer, and getting the check-in booth all ready to greet and register the soon- to-be arriving RV’ers.

Early on, before the show begins … stormy weather can be seen obscuring the Sandia Mountains – See the rainbow just over the bed of the pickup?
Of the 1600 spaces, about 400 had water and 30 amp electric. Electricians ran all the electric, but volunteers ran all the water lines
As one of the 1100 Navigators (Volunteers), we both got these snappy jackets!
Most of the south lot is dirt, some gravel and even some old asphalt. Dusty week for sure with all those rigs coming and going!

And then the fun begins!

Kathy worked 6 hour shifts at the check-in booth as RV’s pulled in to the lot (room for 1600 rigs). There are 3 windows at the booth so she worked with two other ladies each shift. They checked in the arrivals and gave them their parking passes and each rig also received a “goody bag” with some small gifts and lots of printed information about the event and the grounds.

The Check-In booth where Kathy and the other ladies worked


My primary responsibility was to stand at the head of the line and greet RV’ers pulling up, ask them to check-in at the booth, and then once they had their parking credentials, point them in the direction of a “parker” driving a golf cart who would then take them to their spot.

Pix published in the Albuquerque Journal


Our work day started at 7:30 am when we all met in the volunteer tent and had a short meeting about what size crowd we could expect that day.  Since everyone had reservations, we knew what groups were coming in and which ones were leaving on any given day.

Although some stayed for the entire 10 day event, many came just for one or the other of the weekends.

Rigs would be lined up in the drive from the night before and we parked all day until closing at 7:00 pm.  Any arrivals after that time dry camped in the entrance drive until the next morning.

Although we worked a LOT of hours during the 10 day Fiesta, we did have an opportunity (3 times) to take the shuttle bus across Alameda Avenue to the launch field to see the balloons.  We went once in the morning to see the daily “Mass Ascension” and twice in the evening to see the “Glowdeo”.  It was also great to be able to see the balloons land right in our RV parking lot occasionally!

Here’s a slide show of some of the pictures I took.  If you want to see ALL of the pictures, then go ahead and follow this link to a Google Photo Album I put together.

All in all, it was a great event and a once in a lifetime experience.  Kathy and I spent just about a month from mid-September to mid-October and although we worked long hours many days, it was great making new friends, seeing new sights, tasting new/different foods, and being part of the AIBF experience.

They always need volunteers (Navigators) and if you think you would like to volunteer and in turn receive; free RV site, free utilities, free food, tickets to all events, and a really nice jacket … then early in the year, go to this link.  Don’t be discouraged if the web site still shows last years info, just wait a few weeks and try again.  In 2018 the volunteer web application didn’t start until May.

There you can fill out the application.  They need about 1100 volunteers to make this event work.  Some volunteers are golf cart shuttle drivers, some are guest info folks, some work on the launch field, and a host of other volunteer positions are available.  If you have an RV and you know you want to be a “parker” then indicate that on the application.  They need and should have about 35-50 volunteer parkers.

Although we had a great time, we won’t be going back.  Kathy and I made the decision to live the full-time RV lifestyle so that we could “see the country” and we’re working toward that goal.  If we go back to the same place twice, it’s just gonna take that much longer to see all that there is to see … and there’s a LOT out there!

Thanks for reading.  C’mon along by subscribing to this blog (www.herbnkathyrv.com) or subscribe to our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv and visit us on Facebook.com/herbnkathyrv.  We look forward to seeing you down the road.

5 thoughts on “Volunteering at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF)

  1. Wonderful that you guys are experiencing so much of the country and loving it!! Miss you.
    Helped you out on Amazon this week. Take care, you two. Want to send you the link for the new listing with new realtor. What is the bestvway to do that? Much love, Bob & Betsy

    1. Thanks much for helping us out on Amazon! Regarding the listing, just go to that web page and then copy the URL and paste that link into the body of an email to us. Or, there may just be a SHARE button on the Realtors web page that features your listing, click share and then enter my email address.

  2. Looks interesting. Balloons outstanding. Lota work, but seems like you both were having fun too!

    1. Hi Joyce! Great to hear from you and thanks for coming along for the ride! Yes, a lot of work, but fun too. Great for others to try.
      Take care, have a wonderful winter!

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