As the Abbotsford Airshow wraps up its Sunday show after a three-year hiatus, an organizer says it’s been a huge success, despite the traffic woes.
The last full-festival show was in 2019 due to the pandemic, postponing its 60-year anniversary.
Good-flying weather, the recent release of the new Top Gun movie, and the attendance of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds brought supporters out in droves, said airshow spokesperson Jadene Mah.
“People are looking for something to do after those three years,” Mah said. “It is a long standing tradition in the Fraser Valley, and we know everyone loves to come.”
Mah said that attendance was “really strong,” though she does not have official numbers yet. She said it’s hard to say if any records were broken, because the airport and event format has changed significantly since the 1980s.
“It’s a little bit relative, because too many variables have changed,” Mah said. “We had a sold-out crowd though.”
The airshow issued a public apology through its social media channel for the traffic delays on Friday, then announced they’d sold out their gate tickets at 2 a.m. on Saturday.
She said that attendance numbers were one of the reasons for the traffic problems on Friday and Saturday.
Other contributing factors were the limited roads granting access to the international airport, which is a security design, Mah said, and everyone was rusty after three years away.
They made adjustments for Sunday after consulting with traffic experts, and will seek more expert advice for next year, according to Mah.
She said other challenges for this reboot year were the change in suppliers and staffing levels.
But the highlight of the festival for Mah was the “unbelievable drone show, which was a brand new addition this year.