This may be the year that was for Patsy Buchwald, president and owner of the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic. First, she was named one of the Top 100 women-owned businesses in Colorado, and now she is the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce’s 2002 Small Business Person of the Year.
Buchwald purchased the balloon festival in 1995. Since then, the two-person operation has become a respected event, and annually more pilots apply than there are spaces available. The Balloon Classic is held on Labor Day weekend.
Buchwald is the 21st recipient of the chamber’s annual award. It was established in 1981 to honor outstanding small business owners in the community. Jerry Biggs, incoming chairperson of the board and the 2001 recipient, presented the award to Buchwald at the Chamber’s Small Business Day Luncheon at the Antlers Adam’s Mark Hotel.
“The award isn’t about me,” Buchwald said. “It was possible because of a lot of help from a lot of people.”
Buchwald said as many as 1,000 people volunteer to make the festival a success. Measured in money generated for the local community, the festival is definitely a success. Buchwald said last year’s event drew about 50,000 spectators, and resulted in nearly $10 million in combined economic impact for Colorado Springs.
The Balloon Classic experienced a 60 percent growth in sales in the last five years under Buchwald’s management. Associated with the business for sixteen years, Buchwald’s Balloon Classic routinely accomplishes its goals to host an annual hot air balloon event to bring the community together; improve the quality of life; raise money and create awareness for nonprofits and charities; draw regional, national and international tourists to the area; and highlight Colorado Springs, Chamber officials said.
Now in its 26th year, the Balloon Classic has continued to prosper since Buchwald became president and owner. The Chamber cited the festival’s “immense community contributions, solid financial statements, creative marketing efforts, unique management style, and product innovation.”
Will Temby, president/CEO of the Chamber, said, “Patsy is an exemplary business woman with a strong background in community involvement and a work ethic above reproach. She has grown the Balloon Classic to national prominence, making it one of Colorado Springs’ best draws. We are pleased to honor Patsy with the Chamber’s annual Small Business Award… she is indeed deserving of this recognition.”
Also honored at the Small Business Day Luncheon were Xpanshen Marketing Communications with the Small Business Excellence Award and Jerry Faulb with the Small Business Volunteer Award, both recognized by the Small Business Development Center in cooperation with the Chamber.