Future of Lowestoft airshow in doubt

PUBLISHED: 10:40 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:49 16 September 2010

A QUESTION mark hung this week over the future of Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival after a big drop in proceeds from the 2010 event, which was hit by poor weather and a lower attendance.

A QUESTION mark hung this week over the future of Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival after a big drop in proceeds from the 2010 event, which was hit by poor weather and a lower attendance.

Organisers have decided to postpone a decision on the 2011 show until next month after it emerged that the bucket collection on which the two-day spectacular largely relies was considerably down on last year.

The total cash given by the visiting crowd, estimated at 333,000 over the two days, Thursday and Friday last week, was £85,832 - a drop of £34,309 compared with last year's collection, when an estimated 420,000 people attended.

It was also reported that income from park-and-ride sites and the sale of merchandise and programmes was expected to show a substantial drop on last year.

The organisers now have five weeks in which to take a decision on whether to run a show next year, as they weigh up their income against the £310,000 costs of staging this year's event.

Festival managing director Paul Bayfield told the Journal: “While the bucket collection was good considering it was the worst weather we have ever experienced in 14 years, it was unfortunately not good enough for us to decide to go ahead with next year's air festival.

“We still have bills to pay and we know that, with budget cutbacks and a VAT increase, we are facing big increases in costs next year, especially for emergency services cover, so we have some serious matters to consider before we can make a decision one way or another.

“We do, however, owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone who contributed to this year's festival, especially all our volunteer collectors and stewards, who worked tirelessly through the rain, thunder and lightning to make the event as successful as possible.”

“In view of this support and the fact that 333,000 people turned out in spite of the gloomy weather forecasts for both days, the air fFestival company is determined to make every endeavour to make the event happen again next year.”

Two weeks ago the air festival's directors made a direct appeal to seafront businesses to show more support for the event and Mr Bayfield said that while they had not received any definite responses as yet, they were investigating reports that some were making pledges of financial support.

A date that organisers will have in mind when making a decision on next year is September 28.

This is the deadline when all airshows throughout the country have to make applications for displays to the Royal Air Force events team which controls appearances by all of the RAF's display aircraft including the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

If the Lowestoft Air Festival does go ahead next year it will again be held in August - on Thursday August 11 and Friday August 12.

This is because the circumstances which brought about an August event this year will be repeated in 2011 - the date of the summer break-up of Norfolk and Suffolk schools and the annual leave patterns of the RAF display teams.

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