Above a pilot prepares his Hot Air Balloon for flight. At the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival this weekend, you can get “Up Close and Personal” and watch pilots, just like above, prepare their Balloons for flight. If you ask, you might even be able to help with the effort. The Festival starts at 6 p.m. with the Balloon Glow closer to dark, depending on weather.

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival to take off this weekend

July 24, 2014
Santa Paula News

Perhaps it would be fitting to have a gorilla balloon at this weekend’s 7th Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival, at least if the marketing tactics used for this year’s high-flying event would warrant it.

Festival Founder/Organizer Carla Edwards said gorilla marketing has been utilized to publicize and raise awareness of this year’s event as well as to offset rumors that swirled throughout Ventura County that this year’s Balloon Classic had been cancelled.
The festival, which each year draws thousands of visitors, will be held Friday and Saturday at Limoneira Soccer Fields.
Edwards said, “One really good example of gorilla marketing is this past weekend we went to 14 different events as diverse as the Surf Rodeo in Ventura, all the way to the concerts in the park in Santa Clarita and the Tequila & Tacos in Oxnard, drastically different events,” to distribute postcards and flyers - about 8,000 total - about the Citrus Classic.
For the second year there is a banner at the Hollywood Bowl advertising the event and, “A different opportunity... and a great one!
“Personally,” Edwards said she has placed thousands of flyers on the windshields of parked cars, and “I’m sure every car owner in Ventura County has seen it!”
Such tactics were prompted this year by a shortfall in sponsorships experienced by many nonprofits in a still recovering economy.
“This year will be a case study,” to see how successful the event is relying on gorilla marketing.
But, said Edwards, “Another strong challenge we faced this year was the rumors that the event had been cancelled,” due to mishap at last year’s festival that led to the cancellation of the event’s insurance policy, an accident that never occurred.
The rumor mill seemed to start turning in Camarillo and quickly spread throughout the county: “I don’t know how these things get started” said Edwards, “but it makes it incredibly challenging to move forward when a cloud has appeared over one of the biggest events in Ventura County.”
Helping dispel the rumors is the strong support Edwards has received from the media: “I’ve been doing a lot of radio, everyone loves this event so much they’re going out of their way to support us.
“Tom Spence,” of KVTA 1590AM, arranged for Edwards to make several appearances on the Morning Show as have other radio personalities, who are promoting the event through interviews and ticket giveaways.
“Such a rumor like this is hard to reverse ... even with the banners and truck billboard I still hear people say they thought our event was cancelled.
“But,” noted Edwards, “we keep trying!”
Many positive remarks have been generated by the one-on-one marketing: “Everybody really likes the event, they get really excited... at Pirates Festival people were really enthusiastic about the Citrus Classic,” often mentioning in detail their favorite facet of the event.
Edwards’ own favorite is yet to come: “The thing I’m really looking forward to the most is showing we’re alive and well... and we will be back next year.
“I’m looking forward to continuing the tradition for Santa Paula... it might be reconfigured but the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival will continue! We’ll only lose our motivation,” said Edwards, “if it no longer helps Santa Paula.”
Discover the majesty of the hot air balloons, memorable al fresco dining, vintage trailers and more at the festival which will kick off Friday with all the festivities - too many to list! - including a Glow and the special Sunset Wine Dinner, continue Saturday at sunrise with a balloon lift off and tethered rides (but only if the weather permits), full activities for the whole family, a special Downtown Santa Paula Shuttle, a special Beer Pairing Dinner and another dramatic Glow followed by a special Glow Party!
The Citrus Classic Balloon Festival is conveniently located off Highway 126 at 18249 East Telegraph Road, Santa Paula. Regular tickets are $12/Adult/Friday July 25th, $15/Adult/Saturday 26th, and $5/Youth ages 6-14, 5 years and under free always but there are revolving ticket specials and offers you can still take advantage of!
Tickets are available at the California State Welcome Center at (805) 988-1735, the Santa Paula Times at (805) 525-1890 or on-line at www.citrusclassicballoons.com    
Festival parking is $7 per car, $15 per RV. On Saturday, free municipal lots are available via free shuttles.  For the Program and more details, visit www.citrusclassicballoons.com

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