The Inaugural Citrus Classic Hot Air Balloon Festival will take place July 25-26.
Spectators can watch approximately 25 hot air balloons illuminated at sunset, ascending in the mornings, and competing in races through the agricultural corridor of Heritage Valley toward the Pacific Ocean during the first Citrus Classic Balloon Festival, July 25 through July 26, in Santa Paula. The festival will also include live music, kids’ activities and vendors with an assortment of arts, crafts, food, beverages, and souvenir booths. The festival will be held at the historical Santa Paula Airport in Santa Paula.
Scheduled Hot Air Balloon Events
Friday July 25 (5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.): The Citrus Classic Balloon Festival kicks off Friday evening, July 25 with the Opening Ceremony Balloon Glow. As the sun starts to set, spectators can watch as approximately 25 hot air balloons are inflated with warm air, then illuminated at dusk. Visitors are welcome to stroll the Balloon Arena to view the tethered, “glowing” balloons up close, and to talk with the balloon pilots. "It will be a memorable sight of illuminated balloons filling the Ventura County skies as music plays in the background," says Carla Edwards of Creative Directions and event organizer. "A special treat for children will be the special shape balloons, which include a strawberry, a lemon, a goldfish and a witch." During the evening, local vendors will offer dinner items, a wine and beer garden, and souvenir arts and crafts.
Saturday July 26, (6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.): Spectators who wake early will be treated to a Mass Balloon Ascension. Hot air balloons will inflate and one by one ascend with South Mountain and the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. Spectators can also watch balloon pilots compete in the Hare & Hound Balloon Competition. The special shape balloons will inflate, but remain tethered so they can be viewed up-close. After the balloon ascension, live music, flavorful tri tip luncheon and local vendors will be available for families to enjoy from mid-morning to noon. The Citrus Classic Balloon Festival concludes with the presentation of awards including Citrus Classic Champion trophy and cash prizes to winners of the Hare & Hound Race, art pieces by local Ojai and Ventura artists, and other prizes showcasing the companies, products and communities of Ventura County.
“The Citrus Classic Balloon Festival is an ideal locale for spectators and balloon pilots alike with spectacular views of field crops, orchards and working ranches relatively unchanged since the turn of the century,” notes Edwards.
Admission Information and Hours:
Admission is $5.00 per adult, $3.00 for youths (14-5 years of age), and free for children under age five. Parking is $5.00 per vehicle with six or less passengers; $12.00 for vehicles with more than six passengers including RVs.
The Citrus Classic Balloon Festival gates are open to the public 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday, July 25; and 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday July 26.
Additional festival details will be announced soon. For more information, to purchase tickets, to register for the Citrus Classic newsletter or to volunteer, call (805)432-0903 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The History of the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival
In December, Carla Edwards traveled to Guanajuato, Leon, Mexico to research their 7th annual International Festival of Balloons. “After seeing the looks of wonderment on the faces of the children as they watch these colorful giants inflate and lift off, I wanted to bring a Hot Air Balloon Festival to Santa Paula and share it with our local community.”
Says Edwards, “Fantasy Balloons, our official Balloon Meister, has over 23 years of experience organizing, piloting and competing in balloon festivals worldwide. It has been flying balloon passengers in the Heritage Valley for over three years now. Its team is committed to the positive impact the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival will have on the region’s economy and communities.”
“The pilots flying balloons in the Citrus Classic will travel from around the country to fly in the beautiful surroundings of Ventura County," says Steve Wilkinson of Fantasy Balloons. "They include the very best pilots who have won international and national competitions, with some logging over 30 years of balloon flying. Some pilots actually used to fly in the Fillmore and Santa Clarita balloon events in the eighties, and are very happy to return to the area.”
As all ballooning events are weather and safety dependent, events may be postponed or rescheduled due to weather conditions. While this may be an inconvenience for some, the Citrus Classic’s primary concern is the safety of balloon personnel, the community and the environment. They will make every effort to keep the public updated on weather or safety conditions affecting the event.