AirFest moves to September
WCLO's / WJVL's Steve Benton reports AirFest date changed from end of July to the week after Labor Day.
IF YOU GO
What: Southern Wisconsin AirFest
Where: Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, Highway 51 between Janesville and Beloit.
When: Friday to Sunday, Sept. 9-11. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday, with show starting at 6 p.m. Gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and show starting at noon Sunday.
Cost: Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12. Friday night gate tickets are $20 per carload. Saturday and Sunday gate tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.
For more information: Visit www.swairfest.org or call (608) 754-5405.
JANESVILLE Now you can have your cows and your airplanes, too.
Southern Wisconsin AirFest Executive Director Tom Morgan announced Monday new dates for this year’s event.
This year’s event will run Sept. 9 to 11 instead of July 29 to 31, which is the same weekend as the Rock County 4-H Fair and EAA AirVenture.
Airplane buffs will still get their show, dairy cow fans will still have their fair, and aficionados of both will be in pig heaven—no pun intended.
Why the change?
Morgan and AirFest officials had hoped for an appearance from the Brazilian Air Force’s Smoke Squadron, and the July dates were picked to accommodate its schedule.
The Smoke Squadron rarely performs in the United States, and its appearance at AirFest would have been a coup.
Just how big is the flying troupe?
This year, the Smoke Squadron was considering two U.S. shows: one in Janesville and one in Dayton, Ohio.
“Dayton is the home of the Wright Brothers, and their air show is huge—they get almost 100,000 people,” Morgan said.
AirFest officials had a tentative agreement with the squadron, but things changed about 10 days ago.
“It would cost them about $2 million to come to the United States,” Morgan said. “They have huge fuel costs. They have 10 aircraft and about 45 personnel.”
AirFest organizers decided that if the headline act couldn’t come, competition from other events might have hurt everybody involved.
“It didn’t take a high level of intellect or genius to realize that not having strong headliners, we didn’t want to compete with the fair or EAA,” said Morgan.
While the event won’t have the Smoke Squadron, organizers plan to have “plenty of other good stuff, ” he said.
Many of the current acts are expected to reschedule, and organizers are looking for additional acts to fill the roster.
“We are aware of two other airshows that weekend, one in Pittsburgh and one in California,” Morgan said. “But we’ve hired a total of 40 different performers over the last 10 years, so we have some good working relationships.”
Because the event is four months away, Morgan doesn’t anticipate problems finding vendors or volunteers.
The weekend will also give organizers a chance to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
A parade, air acts and other activities will be a “testament to the strength and resilience of first responders,” Morgan said.