Enthusiastic Council contributes to 2nd Citrus Hot Air Balloon Festival

April 10, 2009
Santa Paula City Council

Even in tough fiscal times the City Council said they know a great deal when they see it with their approval of a $10,000 contribution to the 2nd Annual Citrus Classic Hot Air Balloon Festival.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesEven in tough fiscal times the City Council said they know a great deal when they see it with their approval of a $10,000 contribution to the 2nd Annual Citrus Classic Hot Air Balloon Festival. The Council approved the contribution at the April 6 meeting.“I’m here before you tonight to present to a shining example of what our shining city of Santa Paula can do to attract tourists,” and their money spending ways said Festival Founder/Executive Director Carla Edwards who displayed the logo for the 2009 event to be held July 31 - August 1.Edwards, who noted the generosity of title sponsors Limoneira Co. and the city, described highlights from last year’s festival, which also showed off its Santa Paula Airport venue.“I want to discuss what you got for that investment” ranging from about two-dozen balloon participants, a “sizeable number” and four special shape balloons that thrilled the children and adults alike during the Glow.Edwards said that more than 7,000 spectators from throughout the state and beyond attended the festival staffed by volunteers from 12 cities.“Media coverage was incredibly unique, long-lasting and far reaching throughout Ventura County” and beyond with conveying a strong positive image of Santa Paula.In addition, the festival attracted “A sizeable amount of coverage in areas” normally not covering Santa Paula.Edwards said that even in January she learned that the hosts of an area radio station were describing the festival has one of the top 10 events held last year in Ventura County.“What are you doing in Santa Paula?” was even the question posed to Edwards the night Kevin Costner premiered a film and staged a Ventura concert, just one example of the high interest generated by the balloon festival.“The uniqueness of this event,” Edwards added, “will continue to drive that visibility ... “The event will remain affordable for the whole family and with a Friday and Saturday Glow scheduled “That means our hotels” will be booked and restaurants filled and the entire city, as well as sponsors, will benefit “from overnight stays. We purposely constructed” the expanded festival offerings to benefit all festival partners.
A major car show organized by Duke’s Car Club will be just one of the entertainment components of the weekend festival.The year’s working budget is $52,000: “The economy,” noted Edwards, “definitely impacted our opportunity to have returning sponsors” but they do realize the value of the event not only for enterprise visibility but also for the community.The city’s contribution, she added, would represent 20 percent of total fundraising.“It was a phenomenal event,” especially said Councilman Jim Tovias “for the first time ... you did what you said you would do,” by drawing thousands of visitors to the city.The turnout, said Mayor Ralph Fernandez “Was amazing ... that’s what we want to share with the county and beyond ... what Santa Paula is.”Edwards noted that if gasoline is $2.50 a gallon at the time of the festival it could draw as many as 18,000 spectators for both glows alone.Tovias asked if an opportunity for smaller donations exist and Edwards said all contributions would be appreciated.The balloon pilots themselves she noted were “Thrilled” with the 2008 event and their volunteer crews and more will be done this year to pamper the pilots.“This is an event for the community by the community and,” said Edwards, “ a long term vision” of what the balloon festival can bring to the community.For more information call 525-2057 or visit the website: www.citrusclassicballoons.comEmail communications can be sent to citrusclassic@aol.com

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