Man who named Airabelle visits Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Every year volunteers come from all across the country to showcase Airabelle. They’ve become friends over the years, but they had never met the man who named the famous cow.

“I heard he won a contest we offered at Creamland, and Airabelle has been famous ever since,” said Leeray Salazar.

Creamland hosted the contest in 1995; whoever thought of the best name for the flying cow would be the winner.

“My first thought was no way, no way, this is like a dream,” said Bill Dunn, the man who named the balloon.

Friday he made an unexpected appearance at the “Moo Crew” tailgate.

“I thought it was pretty exciting to have whoever named Airabelle here,” said Sandy Milstead.

It’s the first time he’s stepped foot in Balloon Fiesta in 10 years. At Balloon Fiesta, he’s a local celebrity.

“I found myself talking to the Airabelle crew, to where they were introducing me to everybody as the guy who named Airabelle,” said Dunn.

Bill says the biggest reward isn’t the fame. He’s just happy to be associated with Albuquerque’s most famous festivity.

“It’s not just the cow and it’s not just Airabelle. It’s an icon representing Balloon Fiesta, and the cow balloon Airabelle is now worldwide,” said Dunn. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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