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Kelly Smith, Published August 16 2009

AirSho soars into 20th year

In its 20 years, the Fargo AirSho has battled difficult weather.

But this year, organizers are predicting they’ll see the best weather ever – and consequently, one of the largest turnouts.

While bad weather dampened the turnout to about 25,000 people over the two-day event in 2007, AirSho co-chairman Dick Walstad is predicting this year will bring 40,000 to 50,000 people.

“We’re drawing people from all over the country,” said Walstad, who is part of the nonprofit committee that puts on the event. “There just are not a lot of air shows in the area.”

More than 30 aircraft will be on display and part of performances – everything from F-15s to a 300 mph jet-powered school bus.

“That’s not the kind that drives through the neighborhood that picks up kids,” Walstad joked.

But it’s the big attraction of the Blue Angels that draw in the crowds.

“It’s just a spectacular event,” Walstad said about the U.S. Navy’s precision flying team. “They will do some things that you will say ‘how do they do that?’ It’s like holy smokes.”

Cole Carley, the president of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said the air show is one of the area’s three largest events.

“It’s one of the biggest things of the summer,” he said, guessing it will bring in roughly $500,000 to the area from visitors’ hotel, gas and other spending. “It’s a wonderful event.”

The air show costs about $400,000 to put on, Walstad said. It’s sponsored by several companies, including Forum Communications, which owns The Forum.

People can buy tickets at the gate or advance tickets at a discount at StaMart gas stations, Hornbacher’s and Fargo Air Museum until midnight Wednesday.

The advance ticket also gets you free parking. Walstad said there should be plenty of parking available for the two-day event at the Fargodome and surrounding areas.

Near the airport, 19th Avenue North will be shut down for safety reasons during the show. Walstad also suggests bringing a blanket or chair because seating will be limited.

“This is really for the general public,” he said. “I don’t think any air show in the country is going to have the displays we’ll have on the field.”

If you go

Tickets: Tickets at the gate are $20 for adults, $8 for children (ages 7-11) and free for children ages 6 and under. Advance tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children.



Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515