Terre Haute Air Show attracts 55,000; tickets for outdoor event non-refundable

Have to get that on video: Ethan Everhart, 14, tries to record aerial acrobatics on a cell phone on Aug. 18 at the Terre Haute Air Show at Terre Haute Regional Airport. Ethan was watching the air show with his dad, Eric, who is originally from Riley.Tribune-Star file photo/Joseph C. Garza

The 2018 Terre Haute Air Show attracted 55,000 spectators for the two-day event in August.

"We had about 20,000 of those people on Saturday," the day after a heavy rainfall limited general parking, said David Patterson, a member of the Terre Haute Air Show Committee.

Weather, Patterson said, is a risk with any outdoor event and "is precisely why we sold all tickets as non-refundable."

"We are sorry for the problems the pre-show rain inflicted on our planning, but we made every accommodation to go on with the show," Patterson said. "I admit that people were turned away or waited too long, but there are few events that can lose 95 percent of its parking and still happen."

The committee, Patterson said, paid $40,000 to reimburse the Vigo County School Corp. for costs associated with school bus transportation during the Aug. 18-19 air show.

"You can't control Mother Nature. Look what happened at the Brickyard [400 in Indianapolis in September] or the PGA [Championship in St. Louis in August]" both hit with rain, causing delays and cancellations, Patterson said.

Patterson said such events have non-refundable tickets. He noted that some people who booked hotels in Destin, Fla., for vacations this week had to evacuate for Hurricane Michael, but they did not receive refunds, as is the practice in most hotels within a day of a stay.

Patterson said air show performers and suppliers had to be paid from ticket and corporate sales.

"There is no way to substantiate whether people really intended to come or not," Patterson said of ticket holders. General sale tickets were $10 in advance, then $15 and $20 at the gate.

Patterson said VIP tickets were sold in blocks, mainly to corporate sponsors. "We had every single sponsor want to do it again, but there are no immediate plans to have another air show," Patterson said.

Rick Burger, another member of the Air Show Committee, said the committee raised $450,000 in corporate sponsorships, which helped keep general admission tickets price low. Burger said that "all bills will be paid, and we are down to the final cleanup (in paying bills) and will end in the black."

Burger said the committee will detail its budget once all bills have been submitted and paid.

"I want to be sure we have everything closed up properly" on the air show budget, Burger said.

Patterson said members of the Terre Haute Air Show Committee "are pleased to have brought a world class air show to the Terre Haute community. Reports vendors, suppliers and performers were pleased with the opportunity to participate in such an event. A goal of our committee was to utilize local vendors and maximize the local financial impact to Terre Haute."

However, both he and Burger confirmed the committee has no immediate plans to stage another air show. 

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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