What the Heck is Going on with Lift Off? Cornwall Ontario Balloon Fest REFUSING to Answer Questions – Jan 9, 2012

CFN –   I agree with Chris Savard.  It’s time to clear the air about the Lift Off festival he founded in Cornwall Ontario, but the more we investigate Lift Off the weirder it’s become.

After several reports came into our offices we attempted to contact both the Kinsmen and Lift Off.  Kinsmen President Michael Galvin was out and out rude and disrespectful going as far as to suggest we were making accusations of some sort when we asked the very simple and polite question:   Are the Kinsmen sponsoring Lift Off in 2012?

In an earlier story we wrote he went as far as to ramble on in our comments section.

This article is an example of poor journalism and “spinning” a story to a particular angle that serves the intent of the editor.

For the record I was contacted to explain “rumors” that the editor had heard. By implying that I have “confirmed” anything is a lose translation of our conversation where I explained to the editor that I simply could not give him any answers as we have not had any meetings at this point and that our budget was not set. Our club has had no discussion one way or the other on the support of the festival.

Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-off is a flagship event for our community and the ALL VOLUNTEER board that puts on this festival works long hours with very little reward to do something good for our community. There are far too many people who are willing to complain and knock things down, but they often don’t have any better ideas, nor do I see these same naysayers sitting around any of the community board meetings that I attend. If anyone feels that they can do a better job in organizing a world-class festival year after year I encourage them to contact Lift-Off and volunteer their expertise.

This story would have been significantly more balanced if the editor admitted that he was basing this article on personal opinion, rumors and conjecture, rather than hard facts. One person crying foul hardly counts as an entire festival “coming under fire”.

Respectfully, I remain;

Michael J. Galvin
Kinsmen Club of Cornwall

We attempted a follow up before January 1 of this year and Mr. Galvin refused not only to answer this, but after contacting Jason Jesmer it turns out that Mr. Galvin is the Media relations officer of Lift Off.

Mr. Jesmer is the only confirmed member of the current Lift Off board we could verify which is also mystical?   After all Lift Off is a non-profit corporation.   We have not been able to find any Annual General Meeting notices for the group and they pulled their $25K funding request from the City of Cornwall for unannounced reasons.

The question we get asked and now ask is why so mysterious? Why so hostile?   What happened to this festival that means so much to so many in Cornwall Ontario and will it even occur in 2012?

The troubles start after 2010.   The festival had it’s biggest slate ever after receiving an extra $75K from the province of Ontario.

That same year founder Savard seemed to switch families.    The Festival’s own numbers were in the area of 50,000 plus in attendance.  Even if only half of those were paid, with a minimum ticket price of $20 that’s over $500,000.

Add in the beer tent, sponsorship, and the fact that Lift Off didn’t have to pay for the location, staffing, and many other things that most events would have to because of the generosity of the city and community.

Jeff Brunet of Alkaline Entertainment priced the quote numbers for the talent assembled.  The quote number would be what the band was asking for at that time; not necessarily what an event or venue would have to pay.

Running some preliminary numbers through an accountant we can’t find over $250,000 based on numbers released.   Lift Off has refused to release their numbers or show their books.  Again, another red flag for a non profit community driven organization which should be 100% transparent.

See it gets murkier and we have been attacked as though we were picking on the hundreds of volunteers of this event.  On the contrary it’s many of the volunteers that have come to us to help piece the truth of this mess out.   We are asking legitimate questions that people of integrity and good faith should have zero problems answering.

After the 2010 Lift Off Mr Savard abruptly left as President of Lift Off.  He was replaced by President of the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce President Rick Shaver who also left weeks after signing on to be replaced by Judi Auger of Exit Realty.

Before the start of the 2011 event The City elected to write a cheque to Lift Off for $30K without going through standard process.  It was highly unusual and quite unfair to groups that had their funding cut that year or couldn’t apply because of the criteria of funding.

The media were told that sponsorship was down, which it was including the Downtown BIA who pulled all funding to the festival.

Inside sources have told us that it was essentially pushed through by CAO of Cornwall Paul Fitzpatrick.

There even was a ceremony at the 2011 Lift Off to celebrate the returning of the monies which was even odder as it drew further attention to the festivals troubles.

Mr. Savard wrote on his “HUB” that the reason why he left his festival was an illness of his new son from his new spouse; however that didn’t stop him from starting a completely new and highly time consuming business (in addition to his duties as Manager of Cornwall Square) and his son’s illness didn’t hamper his sports pool activities.  Nor did he return to lead the group (as far as is officially known).

Which brings us to January of 2012 a time when things should be in full gear for the festival.

The Lift Off web site which is managed by Mr. Savard (TMI Graphics is another of his businesses that he chose to spend time on instead of Lift Off) has not been updated in quite awhile other than to delete most pages related to 2010.

The Kinsmen via their President Mr. Galvin are refusing comment not only to CFN but other media.   Likewise the Lift Off committee are also being secretive.

So the questions are few and simple ones.

What happened to the monies from 2010?    

Are the Kinsmen still sponsoring Lift Off for 2012?  

Who is on the Lift Off board as of this date, and why is it such a secret??

Why did Lift Off pull their funding request from Cornwall off of the table?  

Why have the 2010 Lift Off web pages been deleted but the site not updated?

Why did the CAO ram through the $30K  unsecured loan in 2011, and the biggie for the hundreds of volunteers who are the real victims of this mess; will there be a Lift Off fest in 2012?  

Why did City Council and the Mayor Support the Unsecured $30K loan?

Why is Lift Off refusing to show their books?  

I’m sure there are a few more questions, but the above are probably a good start.  Personally I think if nothing else the hundreds of volunteers and taxpayers of Cornwall deserve some answers.

You may post your comments below.

Cornwall Free News


  1. Author

    UPDATE – we posted this story on the City of Cornwall Facebook page. After many comments Mr. Bob Peters removed it from the city facebook page. He has not responded to our query as to why as of 9:15 AM Tuesday Jan. 10, 2012.

    Again if there’s something to hide this should be investigated and probably not by people with vested interest. These are community dollars that are part of the Lift Off Festival.

  2. Jamie
    This is probably all relating to your way of posting, not so much as them hiding. Be careful how you try and goad people, use a different approach.

    If you want to view a different bit of news for our area, try how local chain stores as well as independent stores treat their associates. Trust me these people though quite nice are not really that all together.

    How students in some cases do not actually receive the minimum wage.

    How people are called in and do not recieve compensation for the call in.

    Why does a person wanting to work for Mark’s work ware house need to answer a 300 + questionnaire on line? To sell clothes??

    Why does a student require three interviews to sell pencils at Staples? And why does it take so long for have the 1 hour service?

    Most clocks have a 60 min clock…except staples that is.

    How come staples can advertize a laptop for $600, yet after all is said and done or they give it to us in working order it now rings up at $900

  3. Maybe we should start our own facebook page “Cornwall Censorship Review” and publish everything Mr. Peters deletes from the City of Cornwall page for all to read.

  4. We can now add to these local chain stores a huge lack of customer service from corporate offices. It is a global issue. Calling staples head office in the US provided more service then Canada.

    In the Toronto office I have been sent to voice mail four times with two different people. The clerk had just finished speaking with them while were talking and they want me to leave a message.

    I am thinking it’s time for names and a tape recorder again…then youtube the whole thing….See just how Victoria feels about that. See if she feels like leaving a message

  5. Author

    Smee what does any of this have to do with Lift Off?

  6. Why not look into something that affects our future, the well being of our kids in the work place.

    If you fix that then perhaps we can eliminate nonsense issues such as llift off. If we keep the status quo attitude of management we only breed further contempt.
    You can do nothing about it as you have already found out.. As its tands you are shooting a dead horse……

  7. If it indeed appears that money has gone missing, wouldn’t a forensic audit be in order?

    Smee? Are you OK? It’s not even Friday night yet.

  8. Now here’s a piece of meat that needs tenderizing. Some tender loving information would probably make this issue informative and mouth watering.
    Why have secret ingredients? Let’s have all the directions and ingredients “open faced” for all to see.
    I’m sure this will make a big difference in the taste that we can all enjoy.

  9. Holy Jumpin’! Miss Steak sure has a way with words!

  10. Author

    UPDATE: This is what Mr. Peters sent in regards to the city removing our story from its facebook page; which btw violates their new online policy as Facebook is not pre-moderated and quite full of inflammatory and profane utterances. Also, how many tax dollars are being spent by Mr. Peters and Mr. Lajoie on its moderation?

    And as per usual; notice the “threat” of removal from the group…..


    Your post was removed because it linked to an article that contains commentary that is negative and critical of a Cornwall organization and of individuals in this community. As such, it violates the Terms and Conditions of the Cornwall Facebook Group.

    Simply put, the Cornwall group page is not the proper forum for such commentary.

    I have noticed that you have re-posted the article link to the Group Page. This post will be also be removed. I would ask that you refrain from reposting, and warn you that failure to comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Group may result in you being removed from the Group.


    Bob “

  11. i bought a ticket for the entire weekend for Balloon Feast and i am unable to walk very far so i bought myself a scooter and i want to be sure i can use my scooter without any problems. I read pieces in the paper about people having problems withthese bike, i have a handicap sticker on my scooter,it is made for handicap people but it has only 3 wheels. I will hope to hear from someone, Thank you
    can you call my email ios not working

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