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Chamber hoping for last-minute ticket-sale surge for ball

By: Julie Eng, Journal Correspondent
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Though some numbers are down, excitement is high for the 18th annual Black & White Ball. According to event organizers, lagging ticket sales are nothing to worry about. “In this economy, people are careful with their money and where they’re spending, and that’s being reflected in the ticket sales,” said Bruce Cosgrove, executive director of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. However, he is confident that sales will meet expectations. “Eighty-three percent (of the tickets) are sold in the week before,” he said. “And the majority of those are sold that Thursday and Friday.” Entertainment Chairwoman Rosie Mietzel estimates they are about $10,000, or roughly 150 tickets, behind last year. “We think it’s going to be a last-minute decision for a lot of people,” Mietzel said. Though they won’t know for sure until after the event, Cosgrove says the change in venue from Downtown Auburn to the Gold Country Fairgrounds is not responsible for the decrease in ticket purchases. The ball was moved to the fairgrounds after local businesses circulated a petition against having it Downtown, claiming they lost business when streets were closed for the event. Cosgrove says the chamber was happy to respect the wishes of community business owners, as the ball is in part intended to stimulate business in Auburn. The move has been an asset to event organizers as well, as it has made overall set up for the event easier. For those looking to lend a hand in setup and other last-minute preparations, Britney Milbury, volunteer team leader, is looking for help. “We have about 300 volunteers,” she said. “That’s a little less than last year, but still, the amount of people willing to help is overwhelming. It’s very encouraging.” Volunteers are needed for all aspects of the event, and Milbury says everyone who submits a volunteer application will be able to assist in some way. Help is needed in all areas, from setup, to staffing the ball itself, to cleanup. Volunteer applications are available at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Milbury says they specifically need bartenders. Because the Black & White Ball is the only fundraiser the Chamber of Commerce benefits from, the event’s success is critical to the chamber’s budget, Cosgrove said. However, it is also important to local charities that ticket sales meet expectations. He lists several groups that will get portions of the proceeds, including the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospice, the Boys & Girls Club of Auburn, Food for Families, 4-H, and the Auburn Placer County Performing Arts Center. “The money stays in the community,” Cosgrove said. As for the evening itself, Mietzel promises it will be well worth the price of admission. Throughout the night live music will be played on three different stages by seven different bands. There will be something for everyone, from jazz to Cajun-style zydeco music. Street performers will also be roaming the crowd. In addition to a six-foot-tall stilt walker dressed as the Transamerica building, jugglers, a strolling magician, and a fortuneteller, Mietzel says to be on the lookout for the caricature artist. Dressed as a Southern belle, her hoop skirt doubles as a drawing table. And for those who plan to purchase drink tokens, she stresses the importance of planning ahead. If you don’t want to drive home, campgrounds will be available, along with RV spots. Space for RVs is going fast, so those who plan to spend the $20 to reserve a spot should do so soon at the Gold Country Fairgrounds office. However, Mietzel warns that re-entry to the ball from the camping and RV grounds will not be permitted. ---------- Black & White Ball by the Numbers 1 magician 2 stilt walkers 7 bands 5 hours of volunteer work to get a free ticket 22 restaurants and caterers 85 percent of all attendees at the ball are from the greater Auburn community 300 volunteers 5,000 attendees Black & White Ball When: 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, Auburn Tickets: $70 at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce or $60 with discount coupon at Raley’s and Bel Air stores in Placer County Sponsorships: For more information on sponsorships, call the chamber at (530) 885-5616 or see Auburnbwball.com