The Angelina Country AirFest is returning to the Angelina County Airport Sept. 28 and 29.
The AirFest brings in sky performers like Kyle Franklin in Dracula, The Immortal Red Baron in his Sopwith Pup, Stephen Covington in the Pitts Raptor, Mike “Spanky” Gallaway in the Extra 300, Russell Armstrong’s L39 Thunderbird and more.
AirFest producer Brian Crews said the event will begin again with ReMax skydivers bringing in the flags, but there are several acts this year that have never performed this far south, like Nathan Hammond with Ghost Writer air shows.
Since the AirFest was revamped five years ago, it has become something of a national treasure, Crews said.
“It has been very well received; we’re getting recognition across the country, all the way to the International Council of Air Shows,” Crews said. “Many air shows are borderline failures their first year. Ours — we had over 10,000 people our first year. That was something that just does not happen.”
This is the first year the air show will be a two-day event. They wanted to add a day so people had less of an excuse not to show up, he said.
They are holding it a week earlier this year, as well. In previous years, the air show has contended with other events on the same weekend for participation. For example, last year there were eight other events including Diboll Day and the Catfish Festival in Huntington, he said.
Air show enthusiasts also will have a chance to purchase VIP tickets to the first ever night show. Hammond’s aircraft will be equipped with more than 200 pounds of pyrotechnics on the wing tips.
“After it’s dark, he’s going to go out and fly a 20-minute routine, which is nothing short of phenomenal,” Crews said. “It’ll be talked about for years.”
However, the AirFest is still in need of sponsorships from individuals and businesses.
“To put on an event this size is very costly, and the only way we can do it is through sponsorships,” Crews said.
The purpose of the AirFest is to raise money for the nonprofit organization Toys for Tots. Typically the event is paid for by sponsorships, not from ticket sales.
If the event has to dip into ticket sales to pay for its operational costs, that will dip into the money that could have been donated to Toys for Tots, Crews said.
“The more sponsors we get to come in and put this air show on, the more money we have at the end to buy toys with,” he said.
Several different levels of VIP sponsorships are available from $500 to $10,000, each level offering more benefits.
“At the $500 level, with what they get in the newspapers, on the radio, social media, the television stations that air the commercials, all the continuous advertising and the things they get at the show, adds up to about $4,000 of advertising,” Crews said.
“We’re not just asking you to give us money to run the air show, we’re giving you something in return that’s going to benefit your business.”
After the air show is funded, every additional cent earned from ticket sales to sponsorships goes directly to Toys for Tots, Crews said. Additionally, the money spent on the some 3,000 toys purchased for children in Angelina County is spent in Angelina County.
“The more money we make, the more we can help,” he said. “That’s the purpose of the air show.”