Where did the Balloons Go? 2013 Cornwall Kinsmen Lift Off Launches from Avonmore – Roy Nichol comes home with April Wine!

CFN Baloon
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CFNAvonmore Kinsmen Cornwall Lift Off 2013 was marred as it was a balloon festival without many balloons.

For reasons unconfirmed (the buzz was US customs which didn’t make much sense) most of the balloons launched from distant Avonmore Ontario  instead of Cornwall or even nearby St. Andrews.

The traditional sky filled with colourful bilious spheres was not to be seen.

lift off 2012

There were the traditional complaints about the entertainment; the rides cost children too much; the headlines bands weren’t that great, the grounds were still soaking and full of goose poop; but there were some  steps forward this year.

Lift Off decided to not spend money on secondary acts and instead fill their musical lineup with local bands including even allowing cover bands to appear on stage.

And apparently in a first they actually paid local bands!

Local band Booze Hound!

With perfect weather though attendance was estimated at 3-5,000 per day with no estimates coming in over the 10K mark for a single day.

With a free admission event coming up in a few weeks we read comment after comment about Lift Off by people who simply didn’t think it made sense to pay $25 per day admission when the other event  would be free.  There aren’t that many vegetarians in Cornwall.

The biggest flaw with Lift Off is the “Volunteer Board” not to be confused with the hundreds of amazing volunteers that do the heavy lifting for the event.

And the control of Lift Off by city officials like Economic  non Development like Bob Peters.

Lift Off has to decide if it’s a tourism event meant to draw people in from all over or a local Summer celebration.   Lou Gramm from Foreigner really didn’t fit the bill of either and frankly it’s a competitive market and Cornwall has to compete with nearby Montreal and Ottawa.    Even the nearby Franklin County Fair in little Malone NY has country star Vince Gill and the Little River Band playing.

And Lift Off finally did diversify by having Country music Saturday night instead of just playing the usual Corus radio station format bands.

With attendance numbers down over 50% since 2010 it just might be time for a good review and housecleaning and for the organization to realize that to earn community support you have to be inclusive, and you have to be professional.  Nobody wants to team up with a mess.

While many are suggesting that the days of Lift Off may be over this scribbler is hoping that a miracle happens and that smarter, wiser, minds prevail, and with some new blood and leadership Cornwall Ontario can have a true Summer event worthy of its great people.

photo courtesy of Linda Rolland
photo courtesy of Linda Rolland

The highlight for many this Lift Off was the return of fan fave and Legendary Canadian Rockers April Wine which now has even more meaning in Cornwall since drummer Jerry Mercer has been replaced by Roy Nichol of Cornwall!

It’s time for Lift Off to launch to the next level.  Hopefully it can happen as the great people and volunteers of Cornwall deserve it!

And they definitely need a new website design team as it was terribly slow and not terribly well designed.

Did you go to Lift Off?  Post your thoughts and comments why you did or didn’t below.

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  1. I did attend all days of lift off and I thought it wasn’t too bad….but there was one incident happend….I had a 10 yr old watching down with Webster and you have grown adults pushing and shoving kids…. That’s sad… U have no safety for kids or anyone. It seems a Lil odd to me. Ill have to think will it be safe for me to attend with my daughter….

  2. Economic non Development Bob Peters, no more needed to be said. Wait there is, Holy Gilles Latour, lets promote ourselves boys and next year, instead of lift-off we call it takeoff?

  3. Author

    It could be worse. It could be Rip Off.

  4. If for just once these two would step aside and let new ideas, new people step in, maybe, just maybe things will progress but with people who have to be in every picture to make their lives feel complete, nothing will change and things will continue to flop. The only way one could leave the picture is, if maybe, just maybe another prostitute is bought on a city credit card. Fitzy is not here to save his skin this time.

  5. Lets see if this so called fine city could do anything without a BEER TENT than maybe more people would go and enjoy themselves,Canada Day = beer tent Lift off = beer tent can we not do anything without drinking?

  6. Went one evening on Friday, looking for Lift Off, but there was nothing to see, so we left off.

  7. Cornwall laughter it will be “take off for sure” meaning “take off with Cornwall’s loot” like what Willie Wise did to his investors. Maybe they mighty use some of those balloons to go “Up Up And Away in My Beautiful Balloon” as the old 60’s song went.

    With Holy Gilles Latour you can say Holy Cow what a {MODERATED} just like the rest of the gang.

    They all have to go and Cornwall needs a mighty good cleanup. Take out the brooms and the mops and get rid of them completely.

  8. Went to Friday night’s concert & for one reason only, to see Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and was thrilled to see him, for a mere $20.00 !
    Thank-you, to all the volunteers……

  9. I personally did not attend this year as I have in the past. I would say from the reviews I heard was not good at all. Too expensive for your average, normal people to pay $25.00 per event and that is just for the shows. This doesn’t include the $32.00 for rides (bracelet) and had same ole rides and some of the good ones they did have were down. Total rip off. Don’t get me started on the actual Lift-Off air balloons either!!! Suppose to be Cornwall Lift-Off!?! What a load of crap!! One of my friends said they were so disorganized by some launches on the whereabouts that some went to one location awaiting only to be told 45 mins.later it was elsewhere!! I usually see the balloons every year.. not this time around at all!! They lost so many people due to the high costs of things that can’t be realistically afforded by everyone on low budget incomes. It was a disgrace to what most have told me personally. They want to attract outsiders cause why!? Simple. They can’t get our city’s support cause most know all the BS surrounding the entire event. This is suppose to be for our community to enjoy but seems to me they lack the credentials to make it affordable for everyone to attend these events anymore. I’m hoping Rib Fest turn outs are better cause it’s no wonder most people walked outside the grounds to hear the music instead. Oh, may I add, on Canada Day there was a 3 yrs old child that went missing. My heart sank and thought, “How could someone lose a baby like that!?! Needless to say, the band continued to play right after that announcement without waiting to find this child safe. I was disappointed as so many others were too about that incident. I would be freaking out if that was my child lost!! Too many pedophiles in this city to begin with let alone allowed the show to go on anyways… that is a parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child, in the dark, late at night with thousands of people around. Not saying the parent should have paid more attention to having their child not leave their sight but still maddening. Prices need to go down, better rides for the people, stop ripping everyone off then maybe more people would go and enjoy it a lot more.

  10. This Editor obviously doesn’t come out of his house much if he’s complaining to buy a 25$ ticket to a Canadian Legend Country singer, obviously the Lou guy wasn’t the best and Down With Webster sounded terrible live.. Where do you go to a big concert paying less then 25$? if Dean Broady performed in Ottawa or Montreal the tickets would be 75$ and people are complaining about a simple 20 and 5 dollar bill.. Yes the ribfest is nice because it has free entertainment but look at the difference between the musical acts; Lift-Off= Juno nominee, MMVA winner Down With Webster and CCMA Dean Brody. RibFest = The Shiners that have performed in cornwall a couple hundred times(literally).. I’m shure the lift off could bring bigger acts like Carly Ray Jepson and Skrillex and KISS like Bluesfest but people are way too cheap, they complain about paying 25$ but they want bands to come were it cost triple the money that the acts we get come.. Let’s see how well Cornwall’s Cheapests react to seeing a ticket costing 50$.. It’s pretty sad because Cornwall has huge potentials but people are just too dumb to realize that..
    What do you expect them to do about the Goose Poop? Should they go shooting them a couple weeks before the Festival? No because everyone would complain about that.. If they would relocate a couple km’s down the street to a new location people would complain again.. If anything the reason why people are complaining too much are because of these articles/writers, that have nothing better to do but to put down people that worked all year for this.. Shoudn’t you guys be Promoting the festival and not demoting it? This will probably get deleted because the editors can’t take things from people but seriously, if you think its so easy to put something together why don’t you guys bring a festival to Cornwall? They won’t because they can’t beat it..

    Anyways, I loved this weekend and would like to Thank the organizers that have been working around the clock to put this together, Obviously some people are way too negative in life to enjoy things like this, Because we live near Ottawa and Montreal it doesn’t mean we get Ottawa and Montreal Concerts.. T’ill the people stop complaining, Cornwall will never get better.

  11. George,

    Sadly, just so you know we are not Ottawa or Montreal here, this is Cornwall. Maybe if our government stopped wasting our taxpayers money on their cover ups and bs then maybe we would as citizens enjoy things a lot better in our home town!! Fact is, due to the City’s affecting more and more of the low income class people too by their so-called cutbacks cause of their so-called corruption, that they are now suffering more than ever!!! They claim to want to help but it’s a load of you know what!! Put their money where their mouths are and create more jobs for people in this town and there would be less people on assistance then. That is where our tax dollars should be going. So, to say we are too cheap to purchase a $25.00 ticket for the bands here is a load of crap!!! Why invest in being ripped off my the mere crooks who only try and suck more out of the poor people of our community who’d love to enjoy the festivities too but can’t cause that is extreme money for them. This isn’t just a one day event either which is then more costly to those who can’t go and enjoy it even if they wanted to. The rides Omg.. don’t get me started on ripping off people there either!! I seen better rides in out of town events and more variety and pay less than $32.00 for children to enjoy. They need better things instead of the same ole same ole stuff every year. I will enjoy paying for RibFest and have free entertainment when atleast you can get $20.00 worth of amazing ribs to satisfy your enjoyment there and see people having more fun than the actual Lift-Off!! Pftttt.. I’m not alone on this one either, I’ve asked a lot of people on their thoughts about the whole thing. So many were disappointed not to even see any balloons take off in our town this year, not like it use to be or should be. Also, they need to clean up that Complex and it’s why I refuse to walk the grounds cause it is disgusting but yet the city won’t do a damn thing but put their money by shutting people up and their stupid lawyers to save their own asses!!! Ya, they are so about our well being and community alright!?! Enough said.

  12. I missed one thing at Lift Off..and that’s you Jamie..would have loved to listen to all the old Foreigner tunes having a couple of beer with Jamie Gilcig. I’m sure that we would have had a blast.

  13. Author

    Actually Devon I hated Foreigner. I was going to go to April Wine, but decided to not risk a scene of them trying to force me to leave or not allow me in as was rumoured this year and last.

  14. Author

    BTS the Lift Off board simply didn’t adjust. They down scaled knowing a competing festival was allowed in the park two weeks later. It’s a bit odd that the city would even allow two fests in the same location so close together time wise.

    Surely if the LO board heard any message last year it was that the locals would rather spend that admission fee on food than entering and that who was playing clearly wasn’t as important.

    The local bands are not a pull locally or from tourists. The purpose of having them there is to help promote them. You need a draw if you’re going to charge admission. It’s time that Corus radio actually paid cash to bring in retreads like Lou Gramm. Lift Off has to be one of the worst promoted events in the region. The website is horrible. It wasn’t updated until nearly event time.

    Marketing needs to be done 12 months of the year building to a crescendo near event time.

    You always have to adjust a festival. As for the volunteer bs of the board, maybe they just need better volunteers instead of friends and maybe they need to take some of the slush cash and hire an event manager to help them if they’re this incompetent? Events need results, not excuses.

    I like the balloons. I like the music. Lift Off can work much better; but not with this group running it. That’s the reality. They need new leadership. They need a new name sponsor and finally ditch the Kinsmen and their influence(especially Rick Shaver’s). They need to make sure all the cash is collected and put into the event, and the need to listen to the public and have a PLAN. And that plan has to include the downtown merchants and be inclusive. Playing clique games only gets the same pukey results.

    People around here are desperate for entertainment. They will come if you give them value and a good time. It’s not rocket (or balloon) science. Cornwall is a great party town if its the right Party!

  15. I want to tell you that this year was a dud.

    The event should consider changing it’s name to “Cornwall Festival”
    not to encourage people to visit Cornwall for a Balloon Festival

    While I understand wind conditions dictate flying but – Avonmore
    Really !!
    How can people get there when it is promoted as a Cornwall event.

    Again the music is good for some people because that’s what they want and the kids zone for families, however the Balloons are the attractions promoted.

    When we asked how we are supposed to see the Balloons many replies were in FRENCH – strange I thought we were in Ontario and people spoke English here.

    Finally found out after asking a fireman, that a “yellow school bus ” that accommodated 20 adults was going. Poor result here too – why not tell the public that plan “B” will be several city buses to shuttle people to the flying site if Cornwall is not acceptable.

    I sincerely hope that you will do a better job next year, failing which I hope that visitors will boycott the Cornwall Festival (aka) Lift-off

  16. Gary wrote: When we asked how we are supposed to see the Balloons many replies were in FRENCH – strange I thought we were in Ontario and people spoke English here.

    People speak both official languages here, French and English.

    Many replies were in French, but not all which proves we speak both.

  17. First and foremost, this a balloon festival , and not a music festival.

    Second. A lot of people just go for the Balloons. So the Lift off board has to fix how information is put out. Don’t say follow twiter/facebook/radio and NOT put any info out. That was very badly done this year. And before I get swarmed on here, I know the location can change, BUT LET ME KNOW SO I CAN FOLLOW!!! That is all I ask.

    Third. When you do put info on fb or twitter, make sure it is correct. There was a lot of misinformation going out. People missed the launch because they were at the wrong location.

    Forth. Post when it becomes available. Who ever is in charge of this has to get it out as soon as it becomes available. I showed up in Cornwall on Sunday at 6:25 and everyone including the bus was gone. Don’t say it will be decided at 6:30 and do it early without letting people know. we had the radio on since 5:30. twitter and fb on……

    Now I understand about, winds, weather, border causing problems, but on Friday it was announced that the launch would be in Avonmore in the morning on Cornwall daily and confirmed on the radio at 5:00 pm. But WHY could not be done the rest of the weekend? Just makes me very confused.

    Now as for the border issues. The board knows this may happen that they may land in the US. They should be meeting well in advanced with both border groups to see what can be done, to ensure there is no problems. This is not the first year for this, and if you launch next to a border, then it may happen. This problem falls on the board and no one else. They have been not looking after it, till it is to late.

    Now one last point. yes the ribfest is in 2 weeks. This is a great adventure to embark on. I know of none in the area that charge an entry fee, so the lo board will have to figure it our.

  18. Author

    Apparently after Friday MP Lauzon got involved. No balloons were launched from Cornwall after. As far as I have always known anyone that went on a balloon had to have their passport with them and “IF” they entered the US had to immediately report to US customs.

    US customs have had to deal with Lift Off each year since its inception. I can’t imagine what hurdle would be this year that resulted in Avonmore becoming the new launch site and who would want to sit on an no air conditioned school bus to go see the balloons especially if they traveled to Cornwall to see them?

  19. If you think they organize the Lift-Off for the citizens, you are wrong. They organize it for themselves to make money……where do you think all those hundreds-of-thousands of dollars go? With no accountability anything can happen! Comment on that Mr.G.

  20. Now you have me scratching my head. It sounds like Avonmore was set up after Thursday night. If so, why did they not just come out and say that? Now that leaves more questions. If it was preplanned, the board has a lot of explaining to do. They could have avoided a lot of confusion, and just said that the launches will take place in Avonmore.

    But that also makes it look like they wanted the people at the park, instead of the balloon launches. Hmmm. I hope they realize that some people go back to the park after the launch.

  21. Did not go to Rip-off fest this year, Did not go last year and probably won’t go next year. Sitting in my back yard enjoying the sun listening to the music I like on CD enjoying a few cool pops and no crowds or foolish cost to support the clique. Priceless… Ribfest is another story.

  22. @Admin

    Jamie is it just me, or could the whole board of OFF’S be
    Trolling the sight?

    I’ve never seen you get votes that low before.
    “George” must be the “VOICE”+8 come on?

    Got to go now, my Sand box is waiting.

    Or maybe Mac AND the cronies SN?

  23. Author

    Yes HFTT – they come, they read, they vote, and the talk among themselves using small words….

  24. The story I got while talking to one of the balloon pilots was that this year the US was demanding a manifest of who was in the Balloon potentially going across the border 24 hours in advance. The pilot said that wasn’t possible because there could be last minute changes to the passengers and you can’t even know which pilot will be flying the balloon the next day. He says A balloon crossed Thursday night and customs gave them a hard time. Even said “If you guys do this again this weekend you will be charged.”

    Is that actually what happened? Who knows. It’s what i’d heard.

    My take on this years festival is that it was indeed lacking.

    I really hope someone in charge of this event reads this. Here are some good ideas on how to tune things up a bit.

    1. Definitely watch out for the bands. You have the right idea trying to get a variety for different age groups, but your selection this year was poor. I can even enjoy a singer I am not into if he or she can at least perform well. That wasn’t the case this year.

    2. Obviously, the balloons. You guys gotta fix whatever the problem was and make sure they take off from not just Cornwall but from Lamoureux park in Cornwall. It’s liftoff that’s what we are there for. Last year, seeing balloons going up into the air during Suzie McNeil followed up by Burton Cummings was a fantastic night. FIX THE BALLOON ISSUE

    3. Make an effort to clean up Cornwall will ya? When I have guests over, I make a real effort. The house gets a top to bottom clean, the lawn gets mowed. Everything looks as good as possible. This year when cornwall got people from everywhere for this half of a festival, they were greeted to closed streets, holes in the roads, construction detours goose droppings and a mall that looks like its parking structure is on the verge of collapsing. Show a little pride and make this place look good before we have guests over.

    4. This is an outdoor event. It’s great to get our youth away from their video games and out of their basements. What’s the point if every 2 feet you’ve got someone puffing smoke in your face. Completely smoke free events are common. Get on board with that! It’s disgusting!

    That should get you guys started. It wasn’t all bad though. The fireworks were fantastic! Great job on that!

  25. I moved to this town 2 years ago and never in my life have I seen a more opinionated complaining people. If you all have so much input on this festival- next time get off your lawn chair and volunteer.
    I paid the $50 and attended the entire weekend, and had the best time! Sure some acts were better than others, but that how it is, people have different tastes and the organizers clearly attempted to try to get something for everyone. The cost works out to $12.5 per day!!! That is amazing!!!! I am sure they would love to be able to say donation only, however Rib-fest tried this last year and barely any of the 30,000 people that attended Rib-fest donated a single dime to the donation box. SAD!

    Perhaps people need to stop complaining and ACT- decide now you will volunteer and make it the best festival ever to promote your city and stop trying to tear it down!

  26. Stan..whatever money is made I BELIEVE goes to Kinsmen (local charity sponser of the event) Jamie..decide not to go to Lift Off in fear of possibly causing a scene? Are you not the same fella that required 9 police officers to escort out of a city council meeting? C’mon..worried about Latour and a couple of commissionnaires? If not attend as a music lover, attend Lift Off as a journalist or critic. If someone tells me not to go to eat at a certain restaurant because the food sucks, I take their word that they have tasted the food for themselves and came to that conclusion..if I watch TV and Siskel or Ebert give a movie 2 thumbs down, I take that into consideration when buying my movie tickets..when people tell me not to bother attending Lift Off, many of whom never attended themselves, it does’nt pass the smell test. No, get your ass there..see for yourself..and then come back and critique. As a journalist and editor of one of Cornwall and areas largest news site, I expected you to be there wether you wanted to or not…allowed to or not. That’s what makes great news. Jamie..you should be out front at all of Cornwall’s major events.

  27. Author

    Devon it was really important that this Lift Off committee fail on their own merits and have nobody to blame; like last year. I was silent before the event. The weather was perfect. Less than 20,000 people showed up.

    And no, I don’t like to be a fuss and frankly journalists are not supposed to be on the highlight reels. New Journalism opens some new doors; but frankly I want Lift Off to work and I’d love to be a part of it and share my knowledge and experience.

    I’ve seen the same thing in countless groups around Cornwall though; if you’re not inbred into the little group you’re viewed as hostile except for the most fringe of roles. There’s no working your way in really. And you have to suck a lot of tube steak like that Tony Lackroix did to grub a little way in. I’ve never been a brown noser (Tony gets the gold star on that one) and as I approach the big 49 will not start now.

    The biggest reason why Cornwall has not progressed is that the powers that be do not warrant or reward merit and those that are born and bred here bash Cornwall more than we outsiders who see the potential. This is not new and not really meant to “Bash”. It’s meant to be a reality check and the good news is that many are galvanizing and being the change. The dragons are falling one by one. Another just fell last week.

    Sooner or later the bad guys will realize that if they don’t play nice they simply will be bulldozed and paved over; and forgotten. Personally I can’t wait until the next elections to clean house and remain vigilant that the weeds of stooges to not take root in our fertile soil.

  28. Point taken and processed…I was with a few friends who just wanted to have a drink and shoot the shit with you Jamie. Maybe another time.

  29. Author

    Devon we’re going to be having an open house at the Wing Sunday August 21 from 1-4 PM. Feel free to drop by!

  30. Susan says: “Perhaps people need to stop complaining and ACT- decide now you will volunteer and make it the best festival ever to promote your city and stop trying to tear it down!”

    Yeah sure, going over there volunteering and being tasked with picking up cigarette butts is really gonna make the difference.

    It’s already been pointed out that the few people in charge of this thing are not willing to let anyone else get in on the organizing.

    Some people loved it. That’s awesome. Others see ways it could be improved and it’s their right to talk about it.

  31. @Susan
    July 16, 2013 at 5:03 am

    First, Let me take this opportunity to welcome you to
    Cornwall, and hope that your Optimism for Cornwall
    becomes infectious, and can help this little Beauty of a
    City, affect change that will enable it’s Citizens to ACT.

    “volunteer and make it the best festival ever to promote
    your city and stop trying to tear it down!”

    As the Editor of CFN, Cornwall’s most read Local News Forum
    has stated, “If you’re not inbred into the little group you’re viewed as hostile except for the most fringe of roles.” And I’m convinced much like you, Jamie arrived in this beautiful GEM of a city filled with Optimism and appreciation for what many Local Leaders have yet to see through the the LENS of a “NEW CITIZEN.”

    In order for one to volunteer and be recognized on their potential,
    the organizer of any EVENT have to be fostering inclusion. It should be based on personal merit rather than associative merit. The practice of “The Private Club” seems to be historically the accepted practice.

    In conclusion, if I was a new arrival in a new City, I would choose not to publicly express my overwhelming disappointment of my opinions that I’ve “never in my life have I seen a more opinionated complaining people.” It could be perceived as an expression of my Ignorance, of it’s Leadership History.

    “Perhaps people need to stop complaining and ACT”

    Hope to see you off your lawn chair and volunteering at the next event!

    Sometimes Susan, complaint can also be an expression of disappointments.

    Got to go now, my Sand box is waiting!

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