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Sunday, August 31, 2014 7:22 PM Edited: Sunday, August 31, 2014 7:24 PM

CHICO -- ARTOBERFEST, an umbrella marketing campaign that receives funding from the City of Chico in the Tourism category, is being recognized statewide not only as a finalist for the 2008 California Tourism Marketing Excellence Awards in the category of Best Cooperative Marketing Campaign, but received BEST IN CATEGORY by the judges, the California Travel & Tourism Commission announced.

Winners were decided in categories that ranged from Best Web Site to Best Print Piece to Best E-Marketing Strategy at an annual tourism conference in Palm Desert June 17. Attendees at the conference selected the winners in each category, plus Best of Show, via live active voting at the awards luncheon at the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa. Judges awards were announced at that time.

According to Debra Lucero, executive director of Friends of the Arts and marketing consultant hired to establish ARTOBERFEST on behalf of the City of Chico, the festival is in its fourth year. ARTOBERFEST highlights more than 85 events and performances during October and is supported by the City of Chico, the California Arts Council, Butte County Cultural Tourism and private business. It is brought to the region through the collaboration of dozens of arts and culture organizations, individual artists, neighborhoods, schools and businesses.

"We're truly excited about making the final round," said Lucero. "Without the superb graphics of LearningChange, our design partner, our campaign would certainly not have the visual appeal it needs to compete on a statewide level. We also would not be where we are today without the support and vision of the Chico Arts Commission."

Judges evaluated a campaign's return on investment and took into consideration budget and results, according to the California Travel & Tourism Commission's guidelines for the California Tourism Marketing Excellence Awards guidelines. Lucero said frequency and distribution are important tools used for the evaluation as well as the cost of production.

"People are truly amazed at what we've been able to produce on the $50,000 budget we have -- everything from our web design, campaign graphics, print ads, banners, the Artoberfest Guide, giveaway pins, magnets, table tents, presence at Farmer's Markets, Thursday Night Market and other such events -- not to mention administration and execution of the plan" Lucero said. "We've tried to make this campaign as visible as possible from the very beginning to bring higher awareness of the rich artists and cultural experiences our region has to offer and to demonstrate the power of collaborative marketing."

In 2001, Lucero served on the the City of Chico's Arts Commission and was the director of Butte County Cultural Tourism. "We invited author John Villani to Chico to experience the richness of this small Upstate California town (Chico Chamber of Commerce financed the visit). As a result of this and a subsequent visit, Villani named Chico the No. 10 Art Town in American in his 2005 book, The Best 100 Art Towns in America. This gave Chico a much-needed national platform from which to launch a destination marketing plan based on arts and culture, Lucero explained.

"USA Today did a huge article on the top 10 art towns in its feature section and we were off and running," Lucero said. "We looked at models around the country -- from the 30-year-old Gilroy Garlic Festival to Ashland's Shakespeare Festival, started in 1935 to the 59-year-old Salem Art Fair & Festival, plus food and wine events throughout California and back East."

One thing they all had in common, Lucero said, was broad-based community support. "All work in partnership with local government and all end up contributing in a major way to the all-important Transient Occupancy Tax -- the lifeblood of tourism's funding. We could not do what we do without the support of the city and the in-kind labor of dozens of volunteers, CSUC interns and our community."

This year's ARTOBERFEST celebration kicks off Sept. 26-27 in the Downtown Plaza with Chico Palio, the official kick-off event that features horse sculptures (created by business, non-profits, neighborhoods and individuals) racing around the plaza in the tradition of Siena Palio. For information on how to enter a horse sculpture, please call 530-228-2860.

Logo: City of Chico Logo: California Arts Council LOGO: Art Lovers logo fota

© 2013 Friends of the Arts - Upstate Community Enhancement Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Sponsored, in part, by the City of Chico and the Chico Arts Commission, in partnership with Friends of the Arts
- a State/Local Partnership with the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.