Albuquerque, N.M. - September 30, 2010 – ABQExpert for the Visit Albuquerque, Tom Rutherford, was honored with a 2010 Heritage Pin from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF).

The AIBF Heritage Committee established the limited-edition commemorative Heritage Pin in 2005 to honor pioneers of the sport of ballooning, the Balloon Fiesta in particular. This year, they have chosen long-time balloon pilot, Tom Rutherford. He was chosen for his long-time involvement with AIBF, his balloon pilot experience and his extensive volunteer time. He is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to the AIBF and to New Mexico ballooning.

On April 8, 1972, Rutherford helped launch the first version of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which was held in a vacant lot near a mall with 13 balloons. A total of 10,000 people went to see the balloons race. Since then, he became a balloon pilot and for almost 40 years has been the official announcer of the Balloon Fiesta.

Rutherford is one of the Albuquerque and Convention Bureau’s ABQExperts, serving as the Ballooning Expert. He served 24 years in the New Mexico State Senate and was Majority Floor Leader when he retired. He served two terms on the Bernalillo County Commission and now focuses his career on administrative law and government affairs. Rutherford is the official announcer of the Balloon Fiesta and acts as emcee of many awards ceremonies and other events associated with the event.