San Juan River Balloon Rally returns to Bloomfield

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Hot air balloons will take to the sky over Bloomfield when the San Juan River Balloon Rally happens June 17 through June 19.

The event comes back to the community after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People are so excited. … Everybody is just ready for a little bit of normality and this is our way to help," Janet Mackey, a Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce member, said about its return.

A hot air balloon flies over the San Juan River on June 14, 2019 in an area west of Bloomfield.

The chamber has been organizing the event for more than 10 years. It will take place at the Chamblee Soccer Complex, 701 S. 1st St. in Bloomfield.

"It brings people, believe it or not, from all over," Mackey said adding there are more female pilots registered for the event this year.

"It's a nice family-orientated event for the whole community. All people need to do is bring their lawn chairs, sit and enjoy," she said.

There are 21 balloons and two special shape balloons registered to participate over the three-day event.

A hot air balloon floats over trees on June 14, 2019 while another one lands west of Bloomfield.

"One of our special shapes is the Smokey Bear balloon and we're super excited to have Smokey here," Mackey said.

The Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon is under the care of Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon, a nonprofit organization in Albuquerque. It requires 12 to 15 personnel to set up it and inflate it, according to the group's website.

This will be Smokey's first appearance at the rally. The balloon will not fly but will appear at the balloon glow on June 18.

"It's hard to get him. You have to jump through a lot of hoops," Mackey said. She credits Bloomfield City Manager and chamber member George Duncan with securing the balloon's participation.

The inside of a hot air balloon called Roy-G-Biv is seen on June 14, 2019 while it is inflated at the start of the San Juan River Balloon Rally in Bloomfield.

Although Smokey will not soar above the community, his appearance gives residents the opportunity to see him up close and to remind them about preventing fires, she explained.

Balloons are scheduled to take flight during mass ascension on June 17, June 18 and June 19, starting at 6:30 a.m.

Mackey said the normal path for balloons to fly is from Bloomfield down the San Juan River toward SunRay Park & Casino.

The balloon glow on June 18 starts at 5:30 p.m. and includes music, vendors and a car show.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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