CORNWALL 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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