In 2017, Skyfest took a chance on buying a much newer and more expensive Mustang for its car raffle, and it paid off, almost doubling the organization’s gain. At the Skyfest AGM on May 2, board members and interested members of the public learned the raffle netted about $22,000. File photo

Preparations from Quesnel’s cancelled 2017 airshow will carry over to Skyfest 2019

Skyfest elected its new board of directors and highlighted activities of 2017 at recent AGM

The bad news about Skyfest being cancelled last summer due to the wildfires is we didn’t have an airshow. The good news is, a lot of ground work has already been laid for the 2019 airshow.

That was one of the messages shared during the Skyfest annual general meeting (AGM) May 2 at the Best Western Tower Inn.

Skyfest president Jerry van Halderen was ill and could not make the AGM, but he submitted a written president’s report, highlighting the activity of the past year.

He says many improvements were successfully implemented in 2017. The City of Quesnel improved Skyfest’s access to the airfield by installing gates and supplying key fobs to the volunteers when needed, and the storage C-cans have been equipped with ventilation fans. As well, Skyfest received a Job Creation grant through Work BC, which allowed the organization to hire a full-time office employee for five months, as well as buy office furniture and a designated laptop. The City of Quesnel gave Skyfest the temporary use of an office in the airport terminal building and permitted the organization to erect an illuminated sign.

Also, van Halderen noted Skyfest took a chance on buying a much newer and more expensive Mustang to raffle and almost doubled its gain from the raffle.

Although Skyfest did not obtain any funds from the provincial government’s Community Gaming Grants Branch because the airshow is not delivered annually, van Halderen reports Skyfest did receive major funding from other sources, including $25,000 from the Government of B.C., $16,000 from Destination B.C. for advertising in B.C., $10,000 from the Quesnel Community Foundation for portable fencing, and $2,500 from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

All the planning and preparation for the 2017 Skyfest international airshow was complete when Skyfest had to make the difficult decision to cancel last summer. The Quesnel Airport was designated as a fire support base by the provincial forest service and government in July, and that status was officially put in place for a minimum of 30 days, which directly overlapped with the airshow, planned for the August long weekend.

“It was a great disappointment, not only to the board, but also to the many volunteers, sponsors, vendors, performers and public who were looking forward to Skyfest 2017,” van Halderen writes in his report.

“The good news is that many of these preparations will carry over to Skyfest 2019 and ease the workload next year. Most performers, including the Canadian military teams, have committed to return next year. We had a great variety of vendors eager to participate, and most will be returning in 2019.”

This year, Skyfest has purchased some souvenirs to sell, including hats, water bottles, tote bags and toy giraffes to accompany a book about the adventures of Linda the Giraffe, the Skyfest mascot who has travelled all over Canada, North America and even to Afghanistan, often travelling with the CF-18 Demo Team.

In her financial report, Barb van Halderen explained the Mustang raffle netted about $22,000 last year, which she described as “awesome.”

Skyfest had more than $8,000 in advance ticket sales revenue when they cancelled the airshow, and she says they refunded more than $7,000.

They did not lose any money on the performer deposits, but she says they took “a big hit” on the US exchange because a lot of performers deal in American dollars.

“We’ve spoken to all the performers, and they’re going to honour that [deposit] in 2019, so we didn’t lose any of that money,” she says.

Skyfest still has an outstanding loan to directors, which stands from 2012, but Barb van Halderen is positive about where the board stands right now.

“We do have some working capital for the 2019 show; we’ve never found ourselves in that position before,” she says.

The Skyfest board of directors is emphasizing the need for more volunteers, as it prepares to host the airshow in 2019.

“We lost three directors during the year due to health, work and personal reasons, and we want to especially thank Judy Ellis, Daryl Moulder and Priya Sebastian for their significant contributions to Skyfest,” van Halderen writes in his president’s report.

“Three more directors will not be standing for re-election at this time because of (pleasant) life changes. Ian Campbell, Curtis Galbraith and Betsy van Halderen have our sincere gratitude for their years of service to Skyfest and our best wishes for their new lifestyle.”

During the AGM, Skyfest elected its new board of directors. Directors Joe Dangle, Jim Howie and Rudy Jagusch still have one year remaining on their term, and they are joined by re-elected directors Sharon MacDonald, Barb van Halderen and Jerry van Halderen. New directors elected at the AGM are Anand Chandry, Rose Marie Bright, Caroline Mitchell, Virendra Miglani and Capt. Joanne McCallum.

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