Albuquerque company providing wearable souvenirs for Balloon Fiesta

Posted at: 08/22/2013 7:03 PM
By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Part of the fun of the International Balloon Fiesta is finding the right kind of gear to take home: T-shirts, hats, even jackets like the pilots wear.

There will be a first at this year's fiesta. It's the first time a local company will provide wearable souvenirs, and it's a lot of hard work to get ready.

Stitch by stitch, print by print, the people at Graphic Connection are getting ready. They're about a mile away from Balloon Fiesta Park.

"We kind of thought that us just being right down the street it would be a lot easier for us to fill in and run that event a lot better just because of logistics, " Graphic Connection president Scott Creagan said.

Graphic Connection is stepping up the quality, especially with the pilot jackets.

"The pilots are going to love it. Our design just pops off the black and the purple we ordered," Graphic Connection's Tina Whitegeese said.  "It's something a little different. Normally with Balloon Fiesta they're used to a nylon jacket, something that you can mass produce quickly. The Carhartts are just beautiful."

The company has a three year deal to make all the stuff you wear from Balloon Fiesta, and if it all works out they hope to be doing it for much than that right here in Albuquerque.

"Graphic Connection wants to dominate our own back yard, which this is in our backyard. And the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the largest merchandising event. And we want a New Mexico company doing it," Creagan said.

There's a lot at stake. The latest numbers show people spend more than $7 million on retail goods on fiesta grounds, including shirts, hats and jackets.