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Festival's key to success comes from sponsors

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Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 10:00 pm

Ah, the golden, crisp aroma of corndogs, the thumping vibes of the bands onstage, the whirling neon greens, reds and blues of rides all bombarding the senses. They're all made possible through sponsorship at the Lodi Grape Festival.

But what does it take to get a sponsor and what do those sponsors get from becoming involved in one of Lodi's most beloved annual events?

For most companies, it's obvious what the benefits of sponsorship are, the main one being 70,000 to 80,000 people seeing your business name and getting to know what services you offer. Another lesser-known benefit is community cohesion and loyalty.

Van Ruiten Family Winery has been involved with the Grape Festival for four years, being the sole provider of wine. Together with the Lodi Lyons Club (who pours the wine), Van Ruiten raises funds for various charities such as the LOEL Senior Center.

For the winery, it's about the community working together.

"(The Grape Festival is) Lodi's biggest event. With the Van Ruiten family history, they're all about supporting anything that benefits the Lodi community," said Candie Mondo, administrative controller for Van Ruiten.

Mark Armstrong, the Grape Festival manager, usually has the task of going out and collecting sponsors.

At a recent baseball game, Armstrong got to talking with Joe Clark, owner of Clark Pest Control.

Clark has attended the Grape Festival for years with his family, and Clark Pest Control is a Lodi staple, having been started here 50 years ago by Clark's father.

List of Sponsors

Jackson Rancheria Casino
Pacific Coast Producers
Food-4-Less
Anheuser Busch
Van Ruiten Family Winery
Lodi News-Sentinel
Clark Pest Control
Foster Lumber
Wine and Visitor's Center
California Waste Recovery
Farmers and Merchants Bank of Central California
General Mills
Couto Solutions
Bimbo Bakeries
Diede Construction, Inc.
Kitchen Craft
Bank of Stockton
Health Plan of San Joaquin
The Record

Source: http://www.grapefestival.com

"Joe Clark is the one who originally made the decision to sponsor. He's always attended the fair with his family and wanted to be a part of it," said Nicole Kirwan-Keefe, part of Clark Pest Control's marketing department. The company will be an overall sponsor as well as a stage sponsor.

In addition, Clark will be raising funds for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Sometimes, as Armstrong has found, sponsors seek them out, as was the case with Kitchen Craft, a Florida-based company that manufactures stainless steel cookware. They brought a proposal to festival organizers to be the provider of all the utensils and cookware. It's a rare experience, Armstrong said.

The main goal for Armstrong when it comes to sponsors is not only to bring them on board, but to make sure that they are seeing a return on their investment.

"The sponsors that we have, have been very loyal," said Armstrong. "We have to make sure we follow through. After the festival, we get a really comprehensive recap of what they got out of it - what kind of exposure they get. We really go above and beyond to make sure they get what they pay for."

Contact Business Editor Marc Lutz at marcl@lodinews.com.

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