Citrus Classic Balloon Festival starts tonight

July 30, 2010
Santa Paula News

Thousands of people from throughout Southern California and beyond will be the watching sky above Santa Paula at the 3rd Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival, taking flight Friday and Saturday at Limoneira Soccer Fields.

With the dramatic Friday and Saturday evening Glows - dozens of colorful balloons tethered and illuminated from within by bursts of lifting fire - the close to daybreak Hare & Hound Race, a wine and beer garden, food, car and motorcycle show, nonstop musical entertainment and more family fun activities the Citrus Classic creates classic memories of an unusually wonderful time.

Visitors will mingle with balloon pilots that guide the balloons over the Santa Paula area scenic citrus orchards and rolling hills offering views of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands.

Outdoor dining, arts, craft and collectibles vendors, a Kids Activity Area, Saturday morning’s Zest for Life 5K and Kids Runs, well, there’s something for everyone at the balloon festival!

Event Founder/Coordinator Carla Edwards has been kept busy with plans and dealing with the hoards of callers and website visitors especially after features on the festival appeared in Westways and Motor Home magazines.

Attending the festival is “The perfect day trip, family summer weekend or romantic getaway,” she noted.

Donna Stewart, owner of the boutique Santa Paula Inn, said she has been turning away those seeking lodging for weeks: “I wish,” she said with a sigh, “I had more rooms!” for the increasing numbers of out-of-town visitors attending the festival.

The 3rd Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival starts Friday at 5 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Saturday gates open at 5 a.m. for those who want to take part in the fun takeoff of the Hare & Hound Race and the event ends at 10 p.m.

Both evenings will feature the Glow, which of course along with the other hot air balloon activities is weather dependent.

Edwards noted that Evening Balloon Glows - when the hot air balloons are inflated, tethered to the ground with cables, and then illuminated - are timed to begin “as the sun sets and breezes typically begin to calm.”

Friday and Saturday the Evening Glows are planned for approximately 8 p.m., although start time may be shifted earlier or later should winds calm to match.

“To provide a frame of reference,” at the 2008 inaugural year the Evening Glow was delayed 35 minutes as winds calmed late; the next year both Glows met the schedule within a 20-minute time frame.

Start times for Mass Ascensions (such as the Hare & Hound Race scheduled for Saturday morning) may also be impacted by weather and safety conditions.

“For example, balloons were launched at the planned time during the ‘08 inaugural event. In fact, balloons were quickly inflated and launched exactly at 6 a.m. as planned, because winds were beginning to pick up quickly,” and as noted Edwards, “the pilots needed to ascend and fly away to clear the launch site before the winds became too gusty to launch.”

Last year the unseasonably heavy morning fog did not provide enough visibility for the balloons to launch before the winds began picking up at 8:30 a.m.

“So the hot air balloons inflated intermittently at 8:30 a.m., and moved up and down through the skies on tether lines... and,” said Edwards, “people loved it!”

Photographers are also drawn to the Citrus Classic where amateurs and professionals alike take once-in-a-lifetime shots - whether airborne or tethered, glowing or with a daylight sky backdrop - that reflect the beauty, fun and excitement of the festival and its stars.

You Tube also has several videos posted of the Citrus Classic and the crowds of balloon lovers it draws.

The festival is located at 18249 E. Telegraph Road, Santa Paula.

2010 Advance Tickets are $7 per adult ($10 at gate), $3 per youth ages 5 to 14 ($5 at gate), kids under 5 are free.

Free municipal lots throughout Santa Paula are serviced by shuttles at Harding Park/Boys & Girls Club, 1300 E. Harvard Blvd. (#1), City Parking corner of Mill & Ventura streets (#2) and Depot parking, 10th Street and Railroad Avenue (#3).

Also available at a cost of $7 are lots with 4,000 spaces within .5 mile of festival grounds, a short walk or shuttle ride.

Advance tickets - but you better hurry, only until 3:00 p.m. Friday! - are available at the California State Welcome Center (805) 988-0717, Rancho Camulos Museum (805) 521-1501, Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce (805) 525-5561, Santa Paula Times (805) 525-1890, and  Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau (805) 648-2075.

And remember: this 3rd Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival continues its tradition of giving with all proceeds donated to benefit nonprofit clubs and organizations that provide valuable programs and services to the community.

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