Special to the Tribune/Advisor
With SkyFest 2015 just days away, the Observer caught up with Barb van Halderen and chatted about some of the key elements of Quesnel’s International Airshow coming up this weekend.
As was evident at the 2013 SkyFest, arriving early was the key to avoiding the long highway lineups and the subsequent slow progress into the airport. Also with your tickets already purchased, you will move quicker through the lineup.
With crowds expected to be bigger this year, ensuring everyone has the quality experience is paramount with all the organizers and volunteers.
The Friday night, July 31 Twilight Show, new this year, will allow patrons to enter the grounds at 7 p.m. with the show start at approximately 8 p.m. and ending about 9:45 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, gates open at 8 a.m. and the pre-show aerobatics begin at 10 a.m. Opening ceremonies start at 11:35 a.m. and the show wraps up about 4:15 p.m.
For the kids in the crowd, the Kidz Zone is expanded to include wet inflatables so parents, your children could get wet (lets say they will get wet.)
Another addition, and SkyFest 2015 is the only airshow to offer this exclusive opportunity, is the Orange Zone.
In a fenced off area civilian performance aircraft will be moved in, accompanied by their pilots. Spectators can get up close and personal for pictures and conversation with the pilots and their planes.
Expect this to become a new feature at other airshows as the word gets around.
A word on safety.
“Public safety is paramount from the performance point of view,” Barb said.
“The performers are kept strictly within the aerobatic box (called the hot box) which is marked so pilots can see it which keeps them specific distances from spectators. That includes any public roads which fall within the box. That’s why there will be a road closure on the Quesnel Hixon Road while the military jets are flying.”
As for spectator safety and wellness on the ground, organizers have tried their best to account for any issues people may have. Throughout the grounds, volunteers in light blue T-shirts are knowledgeable and ready to answer any questions or direct people as required.
“There are misting stations for heat relief and first responders are on site with radio contact,” Barb said.
On the grounds, several food vendors will offer a wide variety of food and drink. There is also an ATM on site. Both bathrooms and recycle and garbage bins will be plentiful. Everyone appreciates crowds that use the recycle and garbage bins.
“Remember any refuge is a potential aircraft hazard, dispose of your waste respectfully,” Barb added.
Although it’s been said many times, bringing pets to an airshow is a very bad idea. The shows are loud and can be frightening to pets. Leave them comfortably at home.
Smoking is strongly discouraged due to the extreme dry conditions but having said that there will be a designated smoking areas, well-removed from the spectator area.