Local artists continue tradition of hiding state bird in Balloon Fiesta posters

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The tradition of creating a poster for each Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began in 1979, and in 2006 they added a twist by requiring artists to include the state bird somewhere in the poster.

Some have done it well.

The poster is a collector’s item, some worth thousands of dollars. Local artists compete every year to have their work shown off as the official Fiesta poster — roadrunner and all.

“Starting in 2006 Balloon Fiesta took over production of the Balloon Fiesta official poster,” Lisa Mulder said. “We decided it would be a fun little twist to actually have the artist add in a roadrunner and hide it in their print every year.”

Mulder is the merchandise manager for Balloon Fiesta. She says they order around 1,200 posters each year. An unsigned poster costs $65.

For artists, the poster can be any medium and any size. The only must is the hidden roadrunner.

“Everyone in the office always says, ‘Where is it?’” she said. “I won’t tell them because that’s part of the fun and the joy, to try and spy that roadrunner in there somewhere.”

Over the last 11 years, the artists have accepted the challenge and have gotten creative. Like in 2008, when a constellation of stars made up the bird. Then, in 2012 the bird is just a couple of leaves hidden between the flowers. This year, Artist David Gonzales flipped a hot-air balloon upside down and put half of the bird on each side.

“Like I said, some are easy, some are harder to find, but there’s always that little bit of joy, ‘Oh. I found it,'” Mulder said.

When it comes to kids, though, no hidden roadrunner can get past them.

“I thought it was here or down here, it ended up being a constellation of stars,” Tyker Griego said.

Balloon Fiesta is already accepting poster entries for 2018. Mulder said a board will choose the winner by November.

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