05/15/07 — Air show brings in millions to county

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Air show brings in millions to county

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 15, 2007 1:46 PM


News-Argus Staff Writer

Some stopped for a snack on their way out of town.

Others stayed the weekend.

But local officials said all of the 100,000-plus who traveled to Goldsboro Saturday for the Wings Over Wayne air show left their mark -- and a few of their dollars -- right here in Wayne County.

No concrete figure is yet available for exactly how much money the show brought in, but figures used by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce indicate a sum of more than twice the $2 million spent by the 65,000-plus who attended the event last fall.

Betsy Rosemann, director of Wayne's Travel and Tourism office, said she expects a firm figure by the end of the week.

"We're still calculating right now," she said.

But with the typical day-traveler spending between $35 and $50 and the overnight-traveler spending up to $165 a day, the number could be quite large, officials said.

In the weeks before the show, Chamber executive director Steve Hicks estimated a crowd of 100,000 or more could bring more than $5 million to city and county coffers.

Local businesses including hotels, restaurants, gas stations and boutiques would benefit, he said.

"When you're talking about 100,000 people, it doesn't take but $10 a person to pop that thing up to a million bucks," Hicks said. "That's a major thing. It's a lot of money."

The Navy Blue Angels were expected to lure in fans of high-speed flight from across the state and country -- and they did not disappoint.

But this year's Wings Over Wayne was about more than money, local residents said.

Danny Williams, 42, of Mount Olive, was one of them.

"The money is great, but our folks down there at the base are what it's all about," he said. "You can't buy and sell what they do."

For him, the show was about stopping to say, 'thanks.'

"To walk up to one of those boys and shake his hand and then watch him go show off his Strike Eagle, it was special," Williams said. "Now, I'm sure we're all happy about the economy looking good because of all the folks who came in, but the base is about fighting and winning wars -- not making us rich while they do it."