BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - "I love the air show", says Ken Burton. "What's not to like?" Burton should know. As the owner the Fat Boy Drive-In in Brunswick, he's seen all the air shows at the former Navy base, and watched plenty of planes roar off the runway.
So, like many people in the Brunswick area, Burton says he is disappointed that this year's Great State of Maine Air Show has been cancelled.
The Board of Trustees of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority voted on Wednesday to cancel this year's show, because the Navy's Blue Angels flying team can't be there.
The Blue Angels thrilled audiences at the show two years ago, and were scheduled to make a return visit this August. The federal budget sequester got in the way.
The sequester includes a wide range of defense budget cuts, and one of the is hitting the budget that pays for the Blue Angels. MRRA President John Moncure says they started worrying when MRRA officials learned the Blue Angels would need to make cuts, and then saw a series of other civilian air show appearances cancelled. Moncure says "everything revolves around the Blue Angels, and that's the huge draw". With their performance cancelled the MRRA had little choice but to cancel the whole show.
Moncure says cancellation of the show will have a significant local business impact on hotels, restaurants and a variety of vendors who provide everything from food and tents to porta-potties. But some other local businesses - including the Fat Boy -say the real loss is the excitement of the show. Ken Burton and Alise Coffin, owner of The Great Impasta restaurant, both said the air show brings in some business but not a great deal. But Coffin says that thousands of local people enjoy the show, and that it also gives thousands more the chance to see what the Brunswick area has to offer. Both say they will miss having 5he air show this year.
John Moncure says the MRRA is not abandoning the air show permanently. He says the vote was to cancel this year's show. If the Navy's budget problems can be relieved another year, he'd like to have the show return. "As long as we can get the Blues back, I think we might very well continue," he said.