Money concerns impact future of Waterloo air show - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Money concerns impact future of Waterloo air show


Organizers of the Thunder in the Valley Air show say the show may not return next year. Organizers say attendance exceeded expectations - with an estimated 53,000 people attending the 2 day air show but they say some changes may need to be made in order for it to return to the area next year.

Thousands of people enjoyed the Thunderbirds, the Black Daggers, and all the other performances Saturday and Sunday at the Waterloo Regional Airport.

Organizers say all of the feedback they received from those involved with the show was extremely positive.

But it's all about the bottom line and those organizers say money will determine when the show may return.

The daredevil displays by pilots at Thunder in the Valley wowed the crowds.

What didn't wow those putting on the show?

Those who parked outside the gates - and watched for free.

"I would ask the people who were sitting in the parking lot and along the side roads, if they were moved to send in a $10 bill, it would cement the opportunity to have a show in the future. There were literally thousands of people watching the show without spending a dime," said organizer Chris Harshbarger.

Harshbarger says if those people would have bought tickets, it could have meant possibly as much as another $50,000.

Money that would go toward next year - and to the Kiwanis Club to help area youth.

"If we don't set the gate at an affordable price so families can enjoy themselves, which we can only do if all the patrons come and patronize the event, then we may have to move the event to bi-annual or every three years or once in every five years," said Harshbarger.

What's not in dispute is the drawing power of the show to bring people to the area.

"It gives families a chance to come in and whether you're from 2 counties away or 2 states away, it's not that far to get here and you can do it in a day or weekend and not feel like you're running here, there and everywhere and you'll still have the opportunity to be home at a reasonable time," said Aaron Buzza of the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Initial indications are the show drew people from hundreds of miles away. But the post-show analysis will take some time - from economic impact to food and beverage prices to assignments for volunteers.

"We're feeling good about what we did without being self-critical. We really need to be self-critical. If it takes us another year to get it right, we'll take the extra time. Our next show - we get cut a lot of slack because we were newcomers. You can't delegate what you don't know. I know all that I need to know now," said Harshbarger.

The committee that puts on the show will meet next month to talk about what to do next. There's no question it was successful from the point of those involved with the air show or even the weather, the questions are - Is there enough money in the bank for it return next year, would it be on the same date, and will there be another kids day on the Friday before the show.

As for that address if you want to send in your $10:

Kiwanis Club Air show

P.O. Box 561

Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613.

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