Will there be a Lift Off in 2015 in Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Gilcig July 14, 2014

CFN BaloonCORNWALL Ontario – It felt good to see Balloons over Cornwall this weekend, even if only for one morning.    It really did.

I have always been a fan of Lift Off and think it truly should be the cornerstone of representing our city, and is one of the few things that could actually attract visitors during the Summer.

I was very proud to be part of its greatest year in 2010.

Sadly; because of nasty dirty small town politics and intrigues I was blocked from that since that year until this year; the 20th Anniversary when CFN was a sponsor again.   While I’ve been villified by some the reality is that on the About Us page of Lift Off’s website there isn’t a word of long time founder Chris Savard.

The proverbial cup was half full.  It’d be easy to pick at or criticize this year’s Lift Off. It’s not the event that it used to be; but that’s chiefly because   our  elected officials and a truly inept Economic Development Department have had a total lack of vision.  Watching Bob Peters and his wife Tracy sitting alone in the beer tent Saturday highlighted that.

Does it make any sense to allow two festivals in the same key month; July,  in Lamoureux Park?    No, not from any sense.

Rib Fest has no admission.  It also offers no Balloons and no headline acts.   It offers some over priced ribs that the public can sit at long tables and eat out of Styrofoam containers…like people in prison eat out of…

It sucks dollars from local restaurants and actually hurts our local Cornwall economy.    Is that bad?  Well the public enjoys it while the novelty is still there.   For those that can’t afford Lift Off’s admission price it means they can still attend.

But in a city where such a high level of the population is on fixed income or low income it forces people to make choices to which event they will attend in one month or if they can do both it limits how much money they can spend at either.  Surely Ribfest or any festival should only be allowed to book Lamoureux Park in June or August?

It really wouldn’t be that hard to enact a policy or by law limiting major events in Lamoureux Park; especially as the city spends tax dollars supporting Lift Off.

Many are stating that Lift Off is done and will not be back for its 21st year.    I think that would be a very sad mistake.

What it does need though is more of a true team concept.   It needs to be far more inclusive.   For example this year we were a sponsor again; but other than Jason Jesmer there was little to no contact.   We gave more than our package called for in support; but had almost no cooperation including no access to the musical acts or invites to any events which we’d have been happy to promote and with our larger and wider audience would have benefited the event.  People like Kevin Wilson either need to understand their roles or be removed from them; honestly.

This year Ribfest displays more sponsors than Lift Off.   Looking at what sponsors were offered and the perception of more people attending Ribfest I can get that.

The challenge for Lift Off is to gain public support back and that will mean realizing what people like about Ribfest and looking at what people are not digging about Lift Off.

For example I can tell you the VIP area at Lift Off is way too Rick Shaver.    It really didn’t appeal to myself as a VIP and judging by the lack of those in it when I attended twice this weekend, not to too many other’s either.

People like to eat and drink at these events.   The beer tent offerings were dreadful unless you liked Coors Lite or Canadian.  Surely a group like Beau’s should be offered a chance to be a beer sponsor?

The fire works were missing this year too.  That was the element that I heard about the most.  Cornwall loves its fireworks.

And more balloons need to be over Cornwall.   I’ve spoken the US authorities.  There’s no real reason why Lift Off can’t have more balloons over our city other than having a liaison and understanding the do’s and don’ts.

The good news is that the cup is half full.  If there’s a real desire to keep Lift Off afloat “WE” can do it.

Cornwall deserves it.  The amazing volunteers deserve it.   But it’s time to leave the excuses and petty politics behind , and look at solutions to making sure that there is a Lift Off 2015!

I know I’d like to see it, and I’m happy and ready to contribute more to making that happen.

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  1. Two festivals in one month in Lamoureaux Park? Not an easy question to answer, It may be logistics. Perhaps that’s when the ribbers are available. Cornwall got on the rib fest bandwagon late in the game. Perhaps that’s the only time they’re able to make it. Both festival draw tourists from outside. I know people come to Cornwall for Lift-Off and I have family who come down for Rib Fest. The festivals are not only for the residents of Cornwall, they’re to draw tourists in and have them spend some of their cash here. If you say Ribfest sucks dollars from local restaurants and actually hurts our local Cornwall economy the same could be said for Lift-Off. I think enacting or trying to enact a bylaw limiting when festivals can happen in Lamoureaux Park is a very big mistake. The organizers could say you don’t want us when we want to be there, then we’ll go somewhere else.

    Styrofoam containers for ribs complaint? What would you them serve the ribs and chicken on paper plates?

    No fireworks. They did say they were trying to cut expenses. Fireworks are a major expense whenever / wherever they are done. By cutting those out they saved major $$.

    We didn’t go to Lift-Off this year due to a few reasons. One I’m having some health issues I want cleared up and two outside of Doc Walker the musical acts were IMHO dinosaur rock. Lift-Off said they were going to improve the entertainment. I’d say this year’s line-up, outside of Doc Walker, was a step back.

    Regarding the beer tent offerings most companies when they do beer tents want their products to be the one and only. So, that’s why you have limited selection.

    More balloons over Cornwall would be good. But with the winds acting like they do at times it’s easier and less of a logistical problem for Lift-Off and the U.S. border patrol. Could you imagine trying to track down ten or fiften balloons that landed in the U.S?

  2. Author

    Hugger there really is no issue with balloons landing in the US. LO existed for 18 years prior with no real issue. The US reps clearly stated that there had been no new rules or conditions. It might take some extra learning and maybe some more time; but the process is there for the occasional balloon that lands in the US.

    It comes down to what we want for Cornwall. The City spends tax dollars supporting LO. It should be a priority if we are going to continue to financially support and identify with the event. There is no benefit to having a similar event in the same month in the same location.

  3. we had the Busker Festival this past weekend in Kingston, our downtown was packed.

  4. If the U.S.B.P has no issue with U.S. bound balloons then Lift-Off should try to launch from Lamoureaux Park as much as possible. But I know if I was a balloon operator I’d rather launch and land in Canada. I’d rather not have to deal with custom and borders twice for every flight. Try doing that for each of the eight flights. It would get tiresome and tedious for the crews.

    I disagree on the festivals. They bring money into the city. They also bring money into the title sponsors, the Kinsmen and Lions Club. What next? Limiting the number of festivals / events in the city during the summer? We have to look at the overall picture, not just the limited vision of limiting festivals in a certain location.

  5. Author

    Hugger, that’s my point; looking at the big picture. Again, it makes no sense to have two big festivals in the same month in the same location with the financial make up of our city.

  6. Obviously the festivals organizers have no problems using the same location so close together. They’re obviously meeting their internal objectives.

  7. Author

    You have no idea of knowing that hugger.

  8. If so would you continue on if you weren’t meeting your goals / objectives. These are two organizations that cannot afford losses on fund raising projects.

  9. Go big or go home. Rather than compete in the same time frame why not make it bigger and better by combining the two events into one monster 4 day festival and bring on the fireworks!

  10. Author

    That’s an interesting thought David….

  11. I suggested that to Jason Jesmer last year. It was shot down by the Lions Club as they wanted their festival to remain with no admission charge.

  12. i’m going to side with david oldman on this one, although having lived in cornwall many years i have not attended either of these events, subsequently logically i should have no say, but the idea of combining both events for a greater draw of visitors from outside our community makes sense. the best of both worlds you might say. with the fuel costs being what they are for travelers, people could take advantage of an extended stay to enjoy both festivals all rolled into one large celebration. the expense of fireworks could also be divided between the city and a portion from concessions. where does it say in the rule book that there can be only one beer tent. two would make the competition stand up. by allowing other brewers in,(not everyone enjoys the same beer)it gives the people more of what they want, and not to promote public intoxication, why can’t the brewers offer a beer tasteoff challenging the most avid beer drinkers to identify brands and different beers, malts etc. try new micro breweries for their latest concoctions. there are so many ways to attract new visitors to cornwall if only the city had a little imagination. just my opinion

  13. I was just thinking of my old EXPO hat and other items received for being one of the first 5000 into the ballpark. Why not handout a promo T-shirt with Ribfest on one side and Lift Off on the other. Start the festival off with an immediate swell of people and heavily promote the attendance through all available mediums, radio, tweets, etc. In other words create some excitement and then ride the momentum through to the end with some fun and imagination!

  14. Hold a draw on the last day based on your ticket stub. Of course you must be present to win and the draw continues until an individual makes it up onto the stage. Have an act/performance hyped like crazy but no advance notice of who or what it is. Perhaps a contest in advance that is promoted on a daily basis for people who buy an advance ticket who then get an additional opportunity to win something. Just thinking.

  15. Pass all your suggestions to Jayson Jesmer. I dealt with him last year and he is very open to suggestions for Lift-Off.

  16. Comparing Lift-Off and Ribfest is a mistake. They draw two different audiences. Lift-Off has hot-air balloons and offers brand name entertainers for an admission cost. Ribfest is all about the ribs, chicken, etc. and offers tribute bands for no admission cost. Not exactly the same. And as for Lift-Offs claim that they are the ONLY balloon festival in Ontatio that is only partially true. They are the only fully hot-air balloon festival. There is a balloon festival in Windsor that offers hot air and cold air balloons.

  17. Author

    It must be a Lumley thing; balloon fest in Cornwall and Windsor…

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