Thursday, January 19, 2012

Could Peoria riverfront be new home of Prairie Air Show?

PEORIA — The annual Prairie Air Show could find a new home this summer on the Peoria Riverfront, but organizers are keeping details close to the vest.

Brett Krause, organizer of the Prairie Air Show, would neither confirm nor deny rumors Thursday that the show, which has been at the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport for years, could move to Peoria's riverfront in Downtown.  He said there will be a news conference Tuesday to explain details about this year's event. "We have been working since last August to find a way to keep an air show in Peoria," he said, declining to elaborate.

But Peoria Park District Executive Director Bonnie Noble said she has heard talk of the air show coming to Downtown but stressed it was nothing solid. The park district, which manages land on the riverfront and controls the CEFCU concert venue, has not been approached by air show officials for the use of their facilities, she said.  "It could happen downtown. That wold be really cool but I have no formal knowledge of such a move," she said.

Since 2002, the airport has contracted the not-for-profit, Bloomington-based Prairie Air Show Inc. to put on air shows at the Peoria airport, bringing in Thunderbirds, Blue Angels and a number of popular military jump teams. The most recent three-year contract ended last year, despite two, one-year extensions available.  Airport officials have raised concerns with air show organizers about security breaches at gates, cleanup of trash and debris after shows, getting timely approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and other issues, but say none of it was addressed.

"As of right now, there will be no air show,' Gene Olson, director of airports for the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria, said last month. 'And that's kind of what the board wanted to do - to take a year off, and then start fresh in 2013."

For more complete details, please see tomorrow's Journal Star or check later.

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