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Cooking light is getting together with 25,000 of its readers this month for what's billed as the first-ever "reunion" event for a magazine.

At the Birmingham, Ala., headquarters of Time Inc.'s Southern Progress unit, the magazine will attempt to bring its pages to life with the Cooking Light 10th Anniversary Reunion, a series of events April 19 and 20 about healthy gourmet cooking and lifestyles.

Five key sponsors are backing the event: Kraft Foods, Brown-Forman Corp.'s Bolla wines, General Motors Corp.'s Buick and the carmaker's GM Card, and Baptist Health Systems by Merck (Merck & Co. is an indirect sponsor through the healthcare organization).

Other sponsors include the local health club SportsFirst and shoe marketer New Balance.


Events include the Cooking Light/Kraft Recipe of the Decade Contest, the SportsFirst/New Balance Fitness Zone and the Bolla Wines Enlightened Chefs Cafe spotlighting five of the best chefs in the U.S. There also will be a children's fair and a 10K race, among other activities.

"We were surprised at how much interest there was in bringing marketers together with readers for an event on this scale, which has never actually been attempted before," said Chris Allen, Cooking Light's publisher.

Interestingly, though most of the sponsors are also advertisers, Mr. Allen said the sponsorships were sold separately and are not part of ad deals.

"The festival gives marketers a chance to talk to their best customers about products in another dimension beyond advertising," Mr. Allen said.

Sponsors will get coverage in the August issue of the magazine when events will be covered in general editorial pages, he said.

A lure for sponsors was the opportunity to showcase brands and products in creative ways throughout the event, said several sponsors who did not wish to be quoted.

The GM Card, for example, is the preferred payment card at the event including for travel and lodging costs, which were offered to attendees through Southern Progress. Tickets for the reunion are $15 perMagazine

'reunion' family for each day; a deluxe weekend family pass including dinner is $65.


Buick is showcasing its Century, which will be on display and available for test drives around the event. The car will also serve as pace car for the 10K race.

Buicks will be used to shuttle festival attendees to related events in Birmingham, including a kitchen and bath equipment show also sponsored by Southern Progress.

Kraft products will be used wherever possible-and credited-in the Recipe of the Decade contest, with specific products mentioned in signage and publicity surrounding the event.

The Kraft Oscar Mayer Wienermobile will be on hand.

Ask Cooking Light Mobile Magazine, an 18-wheel truck, will also be on display,

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