FOR RELEASE ON FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2020
The Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show has become a staple summer event for many people throughout many states and in Southwest Michigan. Known for its air shows, hot-air balloons, carnival, live entertainment, food vendors and more, it is an event that hundreds of thousands of people include in their list of Fourth of July activities. Despite its popularity, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year's event has been canceled in an effort to help diminish community spread.
"It is truly with a heavy heart that the Board of Directors of the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival has cancelled this summer's event," stated Barbara Haluszka, Executive Director.
"We have all had such positive attitudes during the COVID-19 shutdown and believed that by July things would be 'normal' enough to hold the event," Haluszka said. "But the reality is we are not back to any type of normal and we all must continue to do our part to keep everyone around us safe. Having a small gathering is not permitted, let alone an event with 124,000 people."
With the anticipation of being the first air show in the US to take place this summer, performers and fans alike are disappointed by the announcement. This year's event was going to have an added level of excitement as the US Air Force Thunderbirds were going to be the headliner for the first time in nearly five years, and additional attractions were part of the event schedule.
"This announcement is not indicative of the support and hard work that has gone into the event for the last 40 years," stated Mayor Mark Behnke. "So many people work year-round on this event to make Battle Creek known throughout the world for the hospitality, competitive spirit and friendliness of our citizens."
Although not a popular decision, Behnke believes people will come to appreciate that it was made on behalf of the safety of the community and all event participants. "I know that the people of Battle Creek will support the return of this event in 2021," stated Behnke.
We can't talk about the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show without mentioning the many food vendors that are involved. "All of the fairs and events have been cancelled for our food vendors, so they were really looking forward to our event being the first for them this year," stated John Sims, Sr., President of the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival. "This is just a tough time for everyone."
Kevin McGrath, Owner/Operator of McGrath Concessions, has participated in the event as a food vendor for 32 years. Although they've seen the negative impact that factors such as weather can have on the event, this is the first full cancellation they've experienced.
"Our support for the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival will not waiver," stated McGrath. "We will truly miss our extended family in Battle Creek this summer, but we must keep everyone safe during these tough times."
According to Jamie Skerbeck, President of Skerbeck Entertainment Group, they fully support this decision and are already looking forward to bringing new rides to next year's event." We can't wait to see the smiles on everyone's faces next year," Skerbeck said. "To all of our friends in the region, please stay healthy as we all do our best to take care of each other during this uncertain time. Better days are ahead and we will be there for you when the time is right."
Amidst all of the uncertainty, Haluszka believes it's important to focus on hope for the future. "There's a long list of disheartening events happening in the world right now because of COVID-19, which is why we must now look forward to 2021 and pray that we will have every reason to celebrate together next year."