SUMMERSIDE – Hold onto your hats folks, Air Show Atlantic is coming to Summerside in August with stars like the Snowbirds, SkyHawks and other pilots and performers.
Colin Stephenson, executive director of Air Show Atlantic, announced Thursday the popular community event would return to the city for the fourth time since 2011.
“We’d like to say it gets easier every year, but there are always new challenges. This year it’s the tight deadline to produce the show. But we’re thrilled to be in Summerside again, and this year there will be more opportunities for crowds to interact with pilots and performers thanks to the refurbished airstrip in Slemon Park.
“Having the jets in front of the fans, having the pilots available for autographs and events on site is a great addition to the fan experience.”
In past years Air Force jets had to fly out of Charlottetown due to accessibility and landing standards. But with a fresh runway, there won’t be an issue this summer.
Initially the 2018 show had been slated to take place in Shearwater, N.S., but due to other events in the area, it wasn’t feasible for the show to be there. Now it will take place on Aug. 25 and 26 at the Summerside Airport.
In December, Stephenson presented to Summerside City Council asking for a $20,000 cash contribution, $20,000 of in-kind services and requested $20,000 of the city’s accommodations levy fund for the city to play host to the Air Show.
He and his team predicted the show would cost around $485,903, but Stephenson cannot confirm the total as not all participants have been secured to perform and funding and sponsorship numbers are not final.
So far, council has committed to contributing from the accommodations levy fund and are discussing the in-kind donation, explained city Mayor Bill Martin.
“Staff has vetted numbers that were presented to us by Colin and they seem accurate. We’re looking at an economic impact in excess of $2 million,” said Martin.
“People come from everywhere for these shows. We’ll have hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more busy with customers and visiting faces from across the Island and the region.”
In addition to City Council funding, Innovation P.E.I. is contributing $50,000 in funding for the event.
Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer said it’s very exciting to have the show return to this city.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for the economic shoulder season. This event isn’t in peak tourism season, but it is a great tourism opportunity for the city and the Island.”
Palmer says the airshow’s return is also a result of infrastructure investment in the Summerside Airport.
“It’s a game changer to the event in Summerside. This will be the home base and the economic spinoff will remain here in the city.”
Possible performers for Air Show Atlantic include:
– The Snowbirds
– Canadian Forces The SkyHawks
– Working Aircrafts: the Hercules, the Cormorant and Cyclone Helicopters
– DeHavilland Vampire, Canada’s first fighter jet
– CF-18 Hornets, celebrating the 60th anniversary of NORAD
– Don Forton’s L-29 Delfin.