2012 Cornwall Kinsmen Lift Off Draws Lowest Crowd of This Decade – It’s Time to Clean House!

CFN – 2012 Cornwall Kinsmen Lift Off finished with a bang Saturday night.  By far they had their biggest crowd for Mariana’s Trench, but sadly the turnout for this year was the lowest in this decade.

The record was set in 2010; the year that CFN was a media sponsor, and the year that something odd happened that led to money not being explained and the founder, Chris Savard leaving the event for 2011 and town this year.  2011 was marred by the event having to borrow $30K or not go on and having a circus of councilor Thibault making a scene onstage accepting the return of the funds that never should have been loaned.

It’s odd that the actual Lift Off website makes no mention of its founder anywhere on its website; in its history or about us areas….

Kudos to the hundreds of volunteers that really make Lift Off happen; and no, I’m not talking about its board of directors.

Lift Off should be the cornerstone of Cornwall.  It should be our signature event.  Balloons should fly over our fair city each and every summer, but the Kinsmen in many people’s opinion should not be the ones to run this event any longer.

They’ve had three years now to explain their finances and improve the event.  Three years of steady decline in attendance is not good value to their loyal sponsors who also want this event to shine.

Lift Off is such an opportunity for our community to truly work “TOGETHER” and showcase ourselves.   I heard from a number of downtown merchants that their business actually was worse during Lift Off this year.   That has to change.   So much has to change if this festival has to be saved.  There`s no reason it should not be as big as the St. Jean sur Richelieu Baloon Festival that draws over 10 times as many people.  We just need vision and for all of us to work together.

Predatory media practices have to change.   Personally I would have loved nothing more than to promote Lift Off.  In 2012 to date for example we’ve had over 6,000,000 page views.  Can you imagine the positive impact that would have had to promote this event had it not been for people like Jason Jesmer & Michael Galvin?   And there are other local media that would have loved nothing more than to simply have helped promote our city and event that were inexplicably left out.   We won`t  even start to talk about the musical selections that were catered to one radio stations formats!

It’s better to be a part of something amazing that have something exclusive that’s just not that great.

I`m an optimist at heart.    I truly hope that Cornwall Kinsmen Lift Off 2013 is something ALL of our community can be part of and I hope that we find a new team to rejuvenate this event that should be a popular treasure that attracts as many people as possible.

We owe it to our community; we owe it to our city; but mostly we owe it to the hundreds of volunteers that make it happen.

Jamie Gilcig, Editor – The Cornwall Free News!

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)



  1. Can you provide stats to support your statement that the this year had the lowest turn out in the decade?
    Such a claim should not be made without providing stats or your source.

  2. Author

    Pat I go by numbers provided by Lift Off with the exception of this year which haven’t been officially released yet, but the crowd estimates are pretty accurate. About 20,000 for Friday and Saturday combined and Thursday was a disaster; especially because the VIP tent was full of folks imbibing free booze; thus less than the 30,000 total number released for 2011. Now I can 100% appreciate if you don’t have much faith in Lift Off provided numbers…

  3. Author

    Btw, to the losers who are trying to post attack comments; if your email bounces so does your comment.

  4. Maybe it’s time for Kinsmen to ask for help….

  5. Author

    Judy maybe it’s time for the Kinsmen to come clean about certain Kinsmen and what happens when large loads of liquid cash are lying around?

  6. well at this rate i cant see this thing lasting much longer it will be another thing that has come and gone what a joke and our canada day is a joke too.

  7. What bands would you like to see?

  8. Author

    Dan I’d like to see an open and transparent community supported board that listens to the public and responds with the best interests of promoting the event and Cornwall. I’d like to see the best possible talent we can afford that draws in the most people to our amazing city.

    I’d like to see the self-interest and corruption gone. I want to be proud of Lift Off. I want to be proud of ALL of the people that make Lift Off work; not just those that volunteer the grunt work; and I’d like to be proud to show off our fair city and help bring people here for a memorable time.

    It doesn’t have to be the biggest or the best. It just has to shine and be special.

  9. Can you share those numbers? I’d be interested to see how each year stacked up against the previous.

    I may not have 100% faith in the Cornwall Kinsmen Lift off numbers but I have more faith in comparing their numbers together then their numbers against your observations.

    Also you are trying to inflate (like a hot air balloon) your story by stating “this decade”, although that statement is true you are really only comparing 3 years. How does it stake going back all the way to 1994?

    My question to those that think it is going to die, what are you doing to make it better and keep it alive? Complaining will not make it better next year!

  10. Author

    Pat there is no reason for Lift Off to die. There is a reason to reload the direction and team to make it as best as it can be.

  11. The Kinsmen Club of Cornwall are title sponsors, not members of the operational board of directors of Lift-off. We run the community BBQ and provide affordable food and beverages for the Cornwallites enjoying Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-Off.

    The statement, “Kinsmen in many people’s opinion should not be the ones to run this event any longer” proves a lack of research and understanding of the not for profit board that exists as well as a singular opinion pluralized via the power of the media.

    Might I suggest that CFN find or found its own festival to be able to fully understand the scope of the operations of a board of this nature and leave the public mud slinging to long walks in deep marshes.

  12. tick tock the time has come for a change of scene. how many times have we seen all of the old people coming back. i’m surprised that kim mitchell didnt show up again this year. who ever organized the lift off should have a better look. time for new orginazers . new blood with fresh new ideas and promote bring in better known bands that people would pay to see and enjoy. some of my coworkers went on thurday night and found it the pitts. by bringing in new bands for the city seems to be filled with middle to older population. not much young people as they all move to where the jobs are . by better promotion we could draw better crouds and better balloons not the same old ones years on end. for cornwall seems the only place in ontario with a festival of these magnitude and if we dont watch it it will be gone.

  13. Ive read (and re-read) your comments. Not to say that your “opinion” is not valid. I however don’t think you can blame whatever results on a single service group. You must look at ALL ventures that are attempted and you’ll see that, after having lived in LA, San Fran, Montreal and now back in my hometown for 4 years now…i can only offer my humble opinion as to the core of the problem. The problem, in my limited experience, i believe is societal at its core. Not enough people take pride in their community and “try” to give back in some form or another. There just seems to be, per capita, more takers than givers in this town. Micheal Galvin has shown excellent leadership for the Cornwall Kinsmen club this past year and so, I believe, if we had “more Galvins” giving of themselves in this town we’d not be struggling to keep the fires of optimism. The CMC, for example, only had 3 kids competing in the 13-16 yr range. This tells me that the problem lies our low levels of expectation by the level of
    effort at rearing our children as well.
    Enough said…

  14. Author

    Dr. Poirier welcome to CFN, but we’ll have to disagree about Mr. Galvin. I think he’s done a huge disservice to Lift Off and this city.

  15. Although my comments are completely professional and non-derogatory I noticed they didn’t get posted since they disagree with yours. My friend’s comments were equally professional and failed to be posted as they differed to greatly from yours. Why are you not posting anything that differs too much from your own opinion? This does not deserve to be called Free News, that requires freedom of speech.

  16. Author

    Michelle we have very clear standards for posting. You’re always entitled to your opinion. Thank you for participating on CFN.

  17. Hey “Mr. Cornwall Free News” … Was your name listed as one of the board of directors? If not then maybe next year you can become the “chair”.
    Personally I feel they did a great job and has supplied many hours to make this event happen!

  18. I personally do not understand why there are so many “attacks” back and forth. What is it solving? Where does it get us, or better yet, how does it improve things for next time? I am BEYOND proud to be part of this beautiful city.. and its events like Lift Off that make it so, and as for Canada Day being a joke?! Are you kidding me? The fire works were spectacular. Not every city has these great events. Sure, there are unanswered questions, or what have you. But there always will be those issues. If YOU (whom ever you are) think you can improve and bring something to the table to help out.. then get off your butt and do so. It’s very easy to sit back and complain, which is what is wrong with this city. A lot of complainers, and not enough people that are out there trying to improve what we have. I don’t have the answers, but a starting point would be work with what we have, lets improve what we have.. and enjoy it. It is what you make it. And those of you who don’t want it to amount to anything.. it never will for you. There should be a city just for people like you.

  19. ..well said Amanda..We should be proud of our city. Canada Day events and fireworks were fantastic..and another great year of entertainment at Lift Off.

  20. Author

    Ferris we should be honest. We should be proud of the good and be honest and frank enough to confront and improve what’s not as good. You can’t stick your head in the sand and not try to improve.

  21. Chiropractors are not doctors. And this city is so full of volunteers from the functional 75% of the population they are figuratively tripping over one another in the frenzy to be seen in the Freeholder, which I cancelled today after yet another generic article about Liftoff and how wonderful the city is.

    I did attend the carnival despite my abhorrence at the terrible talent this year, Suzie McNeil? If you stroll through a carnival in Cornwall with a normal family you will see how much needs to be done to get this place moving. I was gone for 25 years and it’s the same crap walking around with the subsequent two generations of illiterates. My kids do love the balloons flying overhead.

  22. Balloons are great! The volunteers are very much appreciated for all of their hard work!

    The Standard Freeholder is another example of crappy reporting. Just because there was pretty balloons in the sky does NOT make lift off a success. It could be much better. I had heard that many people wanted a country group…..Suzie McNeil?! OK!!!!!!! Here is another great example of the “CITY” trying to make things look much better here than they really are. We will probably never know the real numbers count because that will probably be fudged as well! I can guarantee they were down just by experience both years. As long as we keep covering things up and avoiding transparency in this town, it will never improve. Ya, of course it was good to have something, but it could have been so much better!

  23. Sure, don’t get me wrong. There is alot to improve with our city. You will find that in every city. I noticed walking around lots of young people pushing strollers, smoking, being generally rude. ( Seems as though this generation is very different from when I was a teen not long ago. Respect is a huge factor that is missing) But thats another debate, and I think these issues are more wide spread the just Cornwall. What ever else is wrong with this city, do your part to help fix it. Why sit on the side lines and whine, jump in the game, and do something. It’s not perfect, but it is ours.

    Ohh and FYI.. . Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, diagnose and treat patients with health problems of the musculoskeletal system and treat the effects of those problems on the nervous system and on general health.Again.. another debate topic totally.

  24. For those of you that are upset with Free News, I don’t think that they are all negative on this city or they wouldn’t still be here. It is their job to bring the truth and these issues to light. If things are always covered up and APPEAR as great, then there is no room or motivation to improve. Unfortunately, this city itself and those that run it are responsible for the lack of growth here. Amanda I do agree with you on the times and generations issue. A whole other can of worms that needs to be addressed. I think though that people are out there trying to make a difference but once you get put back in your place with the bullying that goes on here, it makes things really hard and people have become apathetic.
    People should take this article and run with it. Make changes in most of the top brass in this city over the next few years and just wait and see what Free News will positively have to report. They do believe that Cornwall does have so much more potential and we don’t have to be perfect, but we can do oh so much better!

  25. Mr Gilcig, I dare you to step into the shoes of a board member for even an hour during the festival. They work day and night during the whole weekend, and not to mention all year round. These people give their time freely to put together this amazing event every year. Maybe instead of criticizing it, offer some valuable feedback. If you constantly attack people, they will obviously not be receptive to you. Obviously you were not in attendance this weekend and did not see the countless volunteers and board members in the sweltering heat running around the park as well as the launch field.

  26. Author

    cornwallgal84 – if you’ve read the story you can clearly see I gave kudos to the true volunteers of Lift Off – As someone that has organized over 200 events including the 1994 NHL All Star festivities at the Palais des Congres in Montreal I can assure you I know the ins and outs of coordinating large masses of people at an event. That of course, like your comment, has nothing to do with the story, right?

  27. What bothers me about your comments, Mr. Gilcig, is that you continuously bash the board of directors. Do you even know all of them or know what they do? No, you do not.

  28. After reading everyones comments, I couldn`t help but chime in. As a member of the Cornwall musician community that has chosen to stay clear of LiftOff because of past run-ins with committee members, I have to say, that despite everything that is being said I thought that the exit of Rob Seguin and the new(ish) blood on the committee this year was a great step in the right direction. Now, most people can complain about the musical selection this year, but I thought it was pretty gutsy (with the exception of Burton Cummings) and, again, a step in the right direction. Now, I was only able to make it out to the Thursday night of LiftOff as I had to play music outside the city the other 2 nights but I can tell you 2 things about that night – (1) the crowd turn out was brutal – too bad because it’ll make the committee think twice about getting those types of bands again and (2) Big Wreck was absolutely amazing, the best band I’ve seen in town ever! Its too bad most people didn’t get it is as they really were amazing. Burton Cummings was a pretty safe pick but Mariannas Trench – not my cup of tea at all – but definitely a step in the right direction if the festival wants to continue in the future. Something for the kids, who`ll be running the festival in 10 years, something besides a Backstreet Boys tribute band or the likes! Who knows, maybe Hedley next year? Irregardless, I have to say that from what I saw on the LiftOff front, things are moving in the right direction and that’s a good thing. LiftOff was a boys club for way too long and although not as successful as previous years, a tip of the hat for the effort!

    Sean Harley, Trench Town Oddities

  29. I don’t believe anyone is criticizing the volunteers of any of the events in Cornwall. You have to respect someone who volunteers their time and loyalty to make an event happen for the good of the community.

    The real problem is the organizers who have their personal agenda and use the event to reward their friends and punish their enemies. This is the reason the organizers don’t like to be transparent. It becomes so obvious who benefits in the end and it may not be the community or the volunteers.

    You don’t have to like someone to work with them just as long as they can get the job done.

  30. Editor – Cornwall Free Press & Other Nay Sayers:

    How dare you besmurch the good name of the Cornwall Kinsmen. Your whole article has many untruths in it. The Kinsmen do not RUN lift off. They are the title sponsor. The board of Directors is made up of area business men and women who volunteer their time to put on this event. If you check your facts sir, you will find that there is only 1 Kinsmen on the Board and he is there as a sponsor.
    Your inuendos and implications against Mr. Savard border on liable. This is the gentleman that started this Festival and who worked for years to build it. The year they lost money, which was opening reported, was due to bad weather. This is something no one has control over.
    You ask for different and better bands – figure out a way to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring them in. Do you have any idea how much these top bands cost?
    You want different balloons – find them. The balloon equipment is very expensive to buy and to run. There are not hundreds and hundreds of these ballons in North Amercica. We should be thankful that these pilots come and give their time. Many of them leave their businesses to come to Cornwall.
    I volunteered all weekend at Lift Off. The largest crowd by far was Friday night for Burton Cummings. Saturday night’s band appealled to a younger generation and there were less people in the park.
    If you and the other people who find fault with Lift Off want change – you get on the Board and voluneer the 100’s of hours it takes to put on an event like this.
    Don’t attack people and groups that have done nothing but good for the people of Cornwall.
    We all have freedom of speech. However, as a reporter, you have a responsibility to report all facts and then let the people of Cornwall decide.

  31. Lot’s of sensitive people. Anybody have any more on the status of the woman who broke two ankles in a crash landing Saturday? Freeholder won’t report that! Chiropractor can’t fix that!

  32. Jamie, are you besmurching, inuendoing and implicating people?
    If you are, you are a bad bad man.

  33. Everyone I talk to said they had a great time! I would like to thank all of the volunteers AND the board of directors for putting on another great weekend!

  34. “led to money not being explained”
    Am I missing something..this..like so many stories in local media always seem to have huge gaps that insiders might understand..
    Is the suggestion that somebody is stealing money..or…
    What am I missing here?????
    Then we move on to $30 grand..that shouldn’t have been loaned??? no explanation
    “2011 was marred by the event having to borrow $30K or not go on and having a circus of councilor Thibault making a scene onstage accepting the return of the funds that never should have been loaned.” I suggest that again..only an insider…knows what your talking about..
    I get that your not a Thiboot fan….but story needs clarification on where the $30 grand came from…went too…etc etc


  36. I have taken time to read all comments in regards to Cornwall Kinsmen Lift-Off.
    I must say I think here is the time to freely speak about your concerns and observations.
    However, I do want to comment on the fact that Lift-Off is a wonderful thing for our town. I did volunteer for this event and feel that all volunteers (including the board of directors) put in many long hours and a lot of great work. I think everyone needs to see the realistic side that everyone has a different taste in music and activities. This year Lift-Off did a great job at accommodating all types of music and different age populations for the music.
    As for the balloons l must say that even if it’s always the same balloons, it still makes a very wonderful sight over the city. If you feel they always have the same balloons and you don’t enjoy it then don’t go and watch them. There were many excited people in the crowds for the balloons and many pleased kids.
    I personally think Lift-Off did a great job. Just like everything else there is always room for improvement and there will always been something that someone doesn’t enjoy. Lift-Off cannot please everyone but they sure do give it their all.
    From what I have learned over the time that if you have suggestions make sure to tell the right people so they can implement it, if you feel that they cannot do so then join the board and get more involved.
    I can guarantee you that if they “revamped” lift-off and all the board of directors we would be having this same discussion after next years festival.
    Cornwall always has something to complain about and we really should be congratulating all the hard work that has gone into this!

  37. If the ticket prices were not so high many people would have went. Including myself I been attending the event for 7 years but didnt go this year. Hopefully they can lower the cost and do more funrasing for the event so more peope can attend it next year.

  38. Ticket prices? Yea, I could go for that. Maybe 420.00 for an afternoonoon and an evening and acool %0 bucks for all time.

    But hey you errant hot heads and blamers, Hot air and hot air balloonies kinda don’t mix with a 30 to 40 dagrees hay.

    I mean I went dow to the circus with my grandson. All we could handle was the Circle of Fire and we practically burnt up, geese.

    The venue was great. Everyone put dem hears and feets and sould an stuff in it alright.

    Crapin out on ev3ryone’l only makes fer a bad nexting next years.
    Don’t be donin that shootin yerselves in der foot and all. Tis a
    stupid ting yuser doin alright.

    Now kissn n’makes up in all tis whats yees havs t’do right. Ain’t nobodies ta blame okay. What’s the matter wit you. What if we had a hurricanes and a volcano’s ye knnows. Stupids.

    I means 40 freakin desgrees already. Snuf it out ya’s bitchin an stuff. Tis a great show if the weather rather than your stupid whethers did’t get in the way of that nose on yur faces..

    Go Ballonies, go next year again alright. Go. Go. go

    Mee’s den……..

  39. Dukers1 has been smoking behind the bushes with Corneliu but can put forward a more coherent thought.

  40. Well considering all the comments that were offered and the blame game being played by what I am sure all well intended folks.
    My owns observatons are these what age group attended this, anybody have figures?
    You might want to consider how folks that are handicapped could get better access to the grounds.
    As for the music you try to get a wide range to meet the demand are there figures to support this so that you can apply this for next year.
    As for the price you only get what you pay for, having said thatthe cost if you purchased tickets before Juiy 1st would be $15.00 per day for how many bands not bad.
    Anyway I think it is a good value and thank to all who gave of fheir time at all levels.

  41. Why is the beer tent located so far away from the bandshell?????

    I’ve been going to this event for over 8 years and there’s nothing more frunstrating then paying $25 to enter the park, enjoy a nice cold beverage in the beer tent and can’t hear the concert!!!!

    Coming from Ottawa, All music festivals have a beer tent located beside the stage to accomodate those who like to have a alcoholic beverages. Can anyone give me some reasonable explanation why????……..if it wasn’t for meeting some old friends from the past, I would no longer go to this festivale.

  42. For the individuals who are complaining about the ticket prices for the performances have no idea what these performers charge. I don’t have the dollar amounts, but can tell you that the top acts received between $ 100,000 to $150,000 for their 60 min to 70 min show. Top acts get top dollars and at these prices we got a deal. Taylor Swiff charges 1 million for a 90 min show.

  43. so based on the high cost of the vendor i forget the exact prices for the booths the cost of tickets and w.e they made is it to be said that we could have a better show next year? or is that all wishful thinking

  44. Not quite sure why people are attacking people for their profession. This isn’t about doctors/chiropractors/etc. This is about Lift-Off. $60 per person to attend the entire weekend? I don’t need to see the numbers comparison from years gone by as I walked by the gates of Lift Off this year and it was obvious that there was more traffic OUTSIDE the gates (inflatable rides section AND balloon rides) than INSIDE the gates. I don’t know about many of you but my family simply can’t afford that and it’s not because we smoke, drink or get tattoos! The ONLY musicians we (my family) ever heard of were Sloan (meh), Big Wreck (like ’em, don’t love’em) and of course Burton Cummings, none of which were worth my booking time off work for. I’ve volunteered in the past and felt good about doing something positive for my community (Mad Moose…where are they now?) I will say this, during the 4 days I volunteered, I felt like the odd one out because it seemed like everyone else was volunteering for ‘what it could do for them’. Rob Seguin departed (yes, a step in the right direction). Beer tent location??? Dude, I could hear OLP rehearsing from beyond the Splashpad, perhaps you should visit the local Audiology clinic. Canada Day could have been better, Shot in the Dark was better than the fireworks (sorry but if you were in front of the band shell like I was, you weren’t able to see most of them as they were BEHIND the trees. As for the hot air balloons…they make their money by taking people for rides, what is it? like $125 or more for a ride? Honestly, I’m not sure as I’m too chicken shit to go up in one. As for new and more interesting ones, yeah, we saw the same old Re/Max, Gatineau and tulip balloons but wasn’t this the first year for the purple bug? As for the cost of the big name musicians? How is it that big names like Paul McCartney can put on FREE concerts (check into his show a few years ago in Montreal). I also believe that Bon Jovi put on a free show in Quebec City earlier this month. Where do the proceeds from Lift-Off admissions go? Why can’t Lift-Off search for volunteer musicians and perhaps lower the admission costs because this is Cornwall, where let’s face it, wages aren’t all that high!

  45. Just so you know – the board of directors is all volunteers. Many of them took one to two weeks of holidays so they can organize the festival. No one is paid a cent. The only paid person is the new hire, Jeremy.

    I’ve volunteered at the past 4 Lift Offs and can tell you that this one was as successful as the last ones. Further to that, this drew MANY people from out of town who spent money in hotels, restaurants and stores. Cornwall needs to bring people into the city for events like this as this is outside sources of revenue. Anyone with a brain will understand the importance of bringing in tourists.

    If you don’t have the money for this event, then sorry, too bad. There are plenty of free events throughout the festival in addition to other events during the summer (such as Arts in the Park) that cost little to no money. Not everything can be free. With an attitude of entitlement such as I am hearing, Cornwall will never be on the map. Obviously the whiners have never been to a festival in a bigger city where the price of admission is easily doubled that of Lift Offs.

    This “newspaper” has to stop the whining and negativity. The libellous writing on this site does nothing to improve the city. It only seeks to stop people from working as best as they can to make this city better.

  46. Author

    No. E.Graham. Lift Off has to open its books to the public. It has to be transparent to those that fund the board. It has to say who actually owns lift off as it is a non-profit corporation.

    It has to answer what happened to the money in 2010.

    And it has to stop taking punitive and many cases illegal actions against CFN for simply asking questions the public asks.

    You’ve now had dwindling numbers the last two years because of this narrow focus and high school behavior.

    There’s a huge potential for Lift Off, but only if it’s house cleaned and those that supported what failed are sent on their way and allow the entire community the chance to support it.

    People like you are the biggest part of the problem until you confront reality and treat others respectfully.

  47. Claude MacIntosh reported in Saturday’s Standard-Freeholder that Chris Savard came to town for the Lift-Off. Does anyone wonder why? Maybe he missed something and thought he was owed something. Thanks for the information Claude.

  48. Mr. Graham if you have an example of an untrue statement made in the Cornwall Free News please provide it with proof.

    The only untrue and actionable statement so far is yours. If you are going to call us liars you better be able to back that up.

  49. I was there for the whole weekend. And the biggest crowd was on Friday with Burtin Cummings. The crowd on Saturday was pretty good. But like many has said Thursday didnt have many people. I think it was a good weekend and Im looking forward to next year.

  50. When a non-profit organization REFUSES to show where the monies c ollected went they should lose their charter. Is it really the Kinsmen or is it someone else? Are we just associating the Kinsmen name to Lift-Off just because it started that way years ago? I, myself, cannot imagine a service club who relies on public funding refusing to show it’s books for all to see. Is someone (or a group) skimming the profits? I think the story is deeper than that! Keep digging CFN you might yet strike oil.

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