Attendance falls at Fargo AirSho
Members of the Fargo AirSho committee still love the Fourth of July. But don't expect them to hold another show on Independence Day. This year's AirSho, held on the Fourth at Fargo's Hector International Airport, drew about 8,000 people and lost ...
Members of the Fargo AirSho committee still love the Fourth of July. But don't expect them to hold another show on Independence Day.
This year's AirSho, held on the Fourth at Fargo's Hector International Airport, drew about 8,000 people and lost about $15,000, said Dick Walstad, co-chairman of the AirSho committee.
"One thing we've decided is never again to have it on the Fourth," he said. "There are just too many (competing) events."
The aviation show needed between 10,000 to 12,000 spectators to break even, organizers said.
The loss would have been even greater if organizers, who anticipated a drop in attendance, hadn't held down expenses, Walstad said.
This was the sixth Fargo AirSho. The first five were two-day affairs; this year's show was one day only.
Roger Kerns, one of the show's organizers, said the Canadian Forces Snowbirds -- the star attraction of this year's show -- were available for just one day.
"We didn't have much choice" in scheduling a one-day show, he said.
The 2002 show drew about 29,000 people and netted about $50,000. The money was divided among the Fargo Air Museum, the Roger Maris Cancer Center and an account for future air shows.
Attendance was about 25,000 in 1999, 40,000 in 1997, 30,000 in 1995 and 19,000 in 1989, according to Forum articles from those years.
This year's attendance was "very disappointing to our 75 unpaid volunteers who worked very hard on the show," he said.
On the other hand, "We know we brought a lot of people to town," he said.
Walstad said his committee has enough money in reserve to cover its losses and to hold another air show.
But not next year.
Hector Airport begins a
$26 million runway repair project next year, which rules out an air show in 2004, Walstad said.
The show will resume when construction allows, either in 2005 or 2006, he said.
Organizers of this year's show got one high-powered pat on the back.
Among the pilots flying in the show was Col. Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to orbit the moon.
Borman "told us this was the best-organized air show he'd been part of, which went a long way toward making us feel a little better," Walstad said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530