The cancellation Friday of this summer’s Vectren Dayton Air Show showed the uncertainty event organizers are working under trying to predict whether their audiences will be allowed to come to their attractions this summer.
Movie houses are opening this week for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, and Kings Island has announced plans to reopen July 2 for season ticket holders, then the general public July 11.
But on Friday Air Show operators said they were cancelling the show, which had already been postponed and was scheduled to be held July 10 and 11.
This marks the first time the entire two-day show has been cancelled in its history since 1975.
“Today’s cancellation is based on the uncertainty if the state of Ohio will permit a large gathering event due to safety concerns and if military aircraft will be able to participate,” the show said in a release.
Organizers said they waited for as long as possible to see how the disease progressed and what restrictions remained in place through the summer. “We were looking at kind of the end of August” after our April postponement, said Terry Grevious, executive director of the Air Show. “It was a very difficult decision,” he said. “We waited as long as we could.”
In recent days, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has expressed skepticism about allowing large gatherings of people to concentrate, such as at the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
“Having a crowd that size, I think, is highly unlikely,” DeWine said earlier this week. “We’ll have to see where we are at that point.”
“It was a very difficult decision to cancel,” Scott Buchanan, chair of the United States Air and Trade Show trustees, said in the show’s release Friday. “There were simply too many unanswered questions significantly increasing the risk of not being able to produce a safe and successful show for the community.”
“It just became clear to us — that, and the military hasn’t been flying (in air shows),” Grevious added. “That was a concern to us, because that was a big part of our event.”
Event organizers are grappling with day-to-day changes in the safety landscape.
Organizers of the Butler County Fair have announced three changes over the past two months - they first cancelled the show entirely, then reinstated some livestock competitions, and most recently announced they would allow some night events with small crowds.
Next year’s Dayton Air Show will be July 10-11, scheduled to be headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. 2006 Beavercreek High School graduate, now Captain Kyle “Gumbo” Oliver, who will be flying as the opposing solo in the Thunderbird # 6 aircraft next year.
Oliver was inspired to join the Air Force while watching the Thunderbirds as a teen visitor to the Dayton Air Show, the show said.
Any tickets or special seating that have already been purchased for the 2020 show will be honored at the 2021 show.
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