Annual ‘Fly-in BBQ’ draws good crowd


While rain and dark clouds may have put a damper on the Heritage Tourism Week kick-off here Friday, partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures Saturday spelled out a fairly successful “Fly-in, Drive-in BBQ” at the Fort Frances Airport.
“The day turned out real well,” said longtime organizer Bruce Caldwell, who estimated 200-300 people visited the airport between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. that day.
The 11th-annual event drew a Dash 8 trainer from the 402 “City of Winnipeg” Squadron of the Canadian Forces, as well as a World War II-era Harvard Trainer and one private plane.
While Caldwell had hoped the event would draw more airplanes than it did, the ones that did fly in proved popular with people.
The “Fly-in, Drive-in BBQ” also attracted about 10 classic cars and trucks, and eight or nine
Ernie Calder earned a People’s Choice plaque for his black Chevy pickup truck while Bill Naturkach received a similar plaque for his Honda Valkyrie motorcycle.
Caldwell said the event also proved to be a successful fundraiser for the 908 Rainy Lake Air Cadet Squadron.
Parent volunteers were serving up burgers and beverages to a hungry public while the cadets demonstrated various drills and marched out to the runway to meet the Dash 8 trainer, which they later toured.
(In addition to supporting the local air cadets, the “Fly-in, Drive-in BBQ” is designed to showcase the local airport by having private pilots fly in here for the day).
The event had been held on the second Saturday in September in previous years, but Caldwell decided to move it to this past weekend in hopes the weather would be better and to coincides with the kick-off to “Tourism Week” being held here.
Caldwell said this new date seems to work better for everyone, including the air cadets and their parents, and intends to hold “Fly-in, Drive-in BBQ” in early June for years to come.