Officials: Air show, festival will boost revenue
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 22, 2009 2:00 AM
Despite growing concerns over the state of the economy, local officials remain confident that a boost to Wayne County coffers is only a month away.
Crowds in the tens of thousands are expected in Mount Olive and Goldsboro the week of April 20 as, for the first time, the Wings Over Wayne air show and North Carolina Pickle Festival will be held the same weekend.
Base officials estimated more than 100,000 people attended the 2007 air show, which featured the same headliners taking to the skies this year -- the Navy Blue Angels, Army Golden Knights and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's own F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration Team.
And the Pickle Festival draws crowds in the thousands every year.
Wayne Chamber of Com-merce executive director Steve Hicks expects similar results the weekend of April 24.
And while he said it is hard to predict whether more or less than the roughly $2 million injected into the local economy during the 2007 show will come in this year, he talked about indicators that point to a successful weekend.
Hicks said due to the nature of this year's event -- the cross-promoted air show and festival -- people will be more likely to "make a weekend out of it," bringing more business to hotels and restaurants in the area.
And because Wings Over Wayne will be, for the first time, a two-day event, performers and vendors "will have to stay somewhere" -- whereas in the past, tourists could come into town, attend the event and leave in one day.
The festival gets under way April 23, with the annual golf tournament, and continues April 24, and all day on April 25. It concludes Sunday, April 26, with a gospel choir concert at the First Baptist Church.
The festival will feature three stages of entertainment on that Saturday.
The main stage in front of Southern Bank on North Center Street will be nothing but bands; dancers will be on stage at the First Baptist Church grassy area at North Center and West College streets; and the popular Christian music stage will be located behind the Chamber of Commerce office.
Brinkley Entertainment will set up carnival rides at the parking lot across from the Mount Olive Housing Authority. Three new rides will be located behind the chamber office.
The carnival rides will operate from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 24. The Band of Oz will perform at the airport that same night from 8 until 11:30 p.m.
Saturday's events will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include the popular classic car show and an antique tractor display. The 5K Cucumber Patch Run and 75-mile Tour de Pickle bike ride kick off the day's events.
The air show runs April 25 and April 26 and will feature the Blue Angels, F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration Team, the Golden Knights and Pearl Harbor act Tora!Tora!Tora!.
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