‘Fly-in’ BBQ draws biggest crowd yet

Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it’s the event’s growing reputation.
Whatever the reason, a record crowd turned out for the seventh-annual “Fly-in Drive-in BBQ” on Saturday at the Fort Frances Airport.
Bruce Caldwell, who has organized the fly-in barbecue since its inception, said Monday that about 400 people came through the gates—more than double last year.
“That was the biggest crowd so far,” Caldwell noted.
About 180 people came through the gate last year while in 2004, only about 75 people showed up. At the 2003 event, about 220 came out for the day, while the year before, that number was closer to 150.
In 2001, about 300 people showed up, while the inaugural fly-in event in 2000 coincided with the grand opening of the new airport terminal and featured a variety of dignitaries.
“It was excellent. A beautiful day, everything went real well,” remarked Caldwell.
“The weather certainly helped bring in airplanes, and I think the garage sale helped draw people,” he added. “It was a great day, a good crowd. It almost couldn’t haven’t been any better.
“It’s too bad we didn’t have a few more airplanes.”
The event saw eight airplanes fly in for the day, drawing pilots from Manitoba and Thunder Bay—many of whom were coming here for their first time.
Area residents also brought by 10 vintage cars, two motorcycles, and two radio-controlled airplanes to show off Saturday.
Ed Halvorsen earned the People’s Choice plaque for his Ford Roadster Rumble Seat while Ken Brandrick won a plaque for having the best motorcycle.
And Brian Church’s radio-controlled plane was voted the people’s favourite.
Eugene and Sheldon Leniuk of Selkirk, Man. won a draw among the visiting pilots, and will have their plane appear on a coaster to be made by Cher and Mark Pruys.
Archie and Andrea Donaldson of Thunder Bay won a calendar donated by Cher Pruys.
And once again, the local 908 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron was at the “Fly-in Drive-in BBQ” preparing and selling both breakfast and lunch at the airport, as well as holding the garage sale.
Proceeds will be used for squadron events.
The air cadets also played pipes and drums, and went through various drills throughout the day.
“They had a great time,” said Caldwell.
The “Fly-in Drive-in BBQ” has become an annual event designed to showcase the local airport by having private pilots fly in here for the day.