Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Bern NC things to do

The 2009 North American air show season got off to its unofficial start earlier this month at several sites in the southern United States. Eight months long, this year’s national air show tour will include the “MCAS Cherry Point Air Show” to be held May 15-17. Industry experts are projecting that air show attendance will increase this year, perhaps significantly, as families look for cost effective entertainment alternatives, and this is on top of a 12-15 percent increase in 2008 over 2007. During previous recessions in 1980-1982 and 1990-1991, air shows throughout North America saw increased attendance. And last year, high gas prices and bad economic news produced a sharp spike in attendance at many air shows throughout the country. Early indications are that this trend will continue throughout the 2009 air show season. “Air shows are fun, safe, exciting and entertaining,” says Bob Kenward, MCAS Cherry Point’s marketing director, “plus ours is free and the largest in the state. Attendees can enjoy a Friday ‘Night Show’ and two full weekend ‘Day Shows’ at absolutely no cost other than what they might spend on concessions and souvenirs. We see this is as a great economic engine that typically attracts more than 150,000 visitors to eastern North Carolina.” Kenward also stated, “When compared to ticket costs of events such as concerts or professional sports, our free air show is a real bargain and lasts much longer.” In addition, a statistical business analysis provided by the local community college provided a conservative estimated economic impact of the Cherry Point Air Show of more than $21.7 million. Kenward added, “Our event fills up hotels, condos and restaurants for miles around. Add to that gasoline, convenience stores and the like and you’re looking at some real spending power within our tri-county area.” The analysis also stated that over 80 percent of attendees polled came from outside the immediate area and represented over 13 states. Although air shows began as a direct descendent of the barnstorming events of the 1920s and 1930s, with the Cherry Point Air Show originally beginning in 1947 as an exhibition for the Marine Corps commandant, the event would barely be recognizable to the aviation pioneers of the early 20th century. Today, vintage aircraft and nimble sport aerobatic aircraft share the sky with modern military jets while performing in front of large crowds. Modern air shows are not just aviation spectacles; they now combine many of the elements of traditional fairs and festivals. The Cherry Point show will feature a children’s area, business expo, preferred seating areas, plus numerous corporate displays and exhibitions. By the end of this year’s season, more than 10 million people will attend more than 400 shows throughout North America. “Air show tickets are comparably priced very low or in the case of military shows, completely free.” says John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, the“Air show tickets are comparably priced very low or in the case of military shows, completely free.” says John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, the air show industry’s leading trade association. “Once a year, your typical air show showcases an amazing collection of aircraft and the skills of the pilots who fly them. And it’s the kind of thing you just can’t experience anywhere else.”
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