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Canadian Snowbirds Save Cape Air Festival from Cancellation

The past few months have been quite the roller coaster for Bruce Loy, Cape Girardeau’s Airport Manager and Director of the Cape Air Festival. Last November it was announced that the Canadian Snowbirds, a nine-aircraft formation team under the Royal Canadian Air Force, would be headlining the 2014 Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival May 17th - 18th. Loy holds the Snowbirds in high regard, noting they’re the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Blue Angels, and he has been trying to get them to Cape since 1988.

Unfortunately, on January 31st the Snowbirds cancelled their U.S. shows last month due to budget constraints. The call was a devastating blow to Loy and the Cape Air Festival, as this left them only months to find a new headline for the show. In light of this, air festival officials made the decision to cancel the show for this year.   

A couple weeks ago, however, Festival Director Bruce Loy received an email from the Snowbirds asking if he would still be interested in having the Snowbirds fly in Cape. According to Loy, the change came because, “budget issues were resolved, and they elected to come to four U.S. shows.” After a few days of ensuring everything was still a go for the festival, Loy announced the show was back on.

Had the proposal to recommit to the festival come much later, this might be a different story. Loy notes that it was the efforts that had gone into the project prior to the cancellation that saved them. “We were far ahead in our marketing,” he explained. This does not, however, leave them with much leeway. “We lost a month of planning time,” Loy stated. “We are really stepping up to make sure this gets done.”

With a little less than two months remaining until the show, the festival is welcoming volunteers and sponsors to help the event reach its potential. There will be a planning meeting that volunteers can attend at Cape Aviation on Thursday, April 10th at 6 pm.

While a major hiccup in the planning for the festival, the timing is a little earlier this year than usual as well. The Cape Air Festival typically takes place around mid to late June. However, with an offer from a big name like the Canadian Snowbirds to perform in May, festival officials were willing to move the date up to take advantage of the opportunity.

Festival Director Loy reaffirms the decision to move the festival up to get the Snowbirds. Not only will they provide an unforgettable performance, the Canadian Snowbirds have a significantly smaller price tag than a flight team with similar abilities. Loy points out, “[the Snowbirds] don’t have a show fee…they also provide all of their own fuel.” As a whole, Loy estimates the total cost for this year’s show (including the cost of other performers and miscellaneous expenses) to be about $200,000, whereas a headliner with similar skills and renown would cost upwards of $300,000.

In addition to the Canadian Snowbirds, this year’s Cape Air Festival will feature many other talented performers. The list of talent includes the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, Matt Younkin's Beech 18 Aerobatics, Aerostars Acrobatic Team, Indy Boys Jet Trucks, and Friends of Jenny. The festival will also have an inflatable area for children that get restless sitting and watching the show.

Gates will open for the show at 10 am, and the show will begin at approximately 1:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online or at the gate. The online prices are $12 for adults and $7 for children, with a $1.50 fee per ticket purchased. The gate prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children. All children six and under may attend free of charge.

For more information on the Cape Regional Air Festival, visit www.capegirardeauairfestival.com.

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