Officials Determine Original Location "Too Dangerous"
The 19th annual Cottonwood
Airplane, Auto and Cycle Show scheduled for May 12 at Cottonwood
Municipal Airport (AZ) will not held this year, leaving a void that
disappoints supporters and those 1,500 to 2,500 who planned to
attend, reported the Verde Independent.
The show was canceled because of concerns of safety, property
damage, and security.
Said Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce President Margie Beach,
"We're disappointed ... but there were challenges that made it
difficult this year." She is hopeful that the event will be back on
track for next year.
A meeting of interested parties was recently held
that included the Chamber's Margie Beach, the Cottonwood
Public Works Director, the Cottonwood Airport Users Association
President Al Gradijan, event committee organizers, and 19-year
organizer, Wayne "Butch" Hunt.
An alternative location was offered, but declined, because, Hunt
said, all arrangements had been made in relation to holding it at
the Cottonwood Airport, and making dramatic changes to established
arrangements would "impossible."
Public Works Director Tim Costello, who oversees airport
management, asserted the reality of safety concerns at the airport
while the event is held, during which the airport is not
"You have to be concerned with aircraft maneuvering around the
crowds. I have seen aircraft come by and part the crowd, without
incident, but the possibility of an accident is there."
Costello cited the dramatic increase in aircraft activity, as
well as the doubling of aircraft based at the airport over the past
"In the early history of the auto and airplane show, we had a
pretty sleepy airport," he said. "Now [activity] has increased
In addition to safety
concerns in the skies and on the ground, aircraft owners have
expressed concern for the integrity of their own planes tied down
at the airport.
Issues of children playing on or around wings of planes have
seen some owners moving their aircraft during previous events
because they don't want the public around their planes.
Said Gradijan, "Planes are much more fragile than cars.
Personally, there's no way my plane would be out there during that
For Gradijan, having it at an airport is not critical because,
he contends, the show has turned into an auto show. "No planes have
been at this car show for years," he said.
Costello agreed that the presence of airplanes at the show has
Planes were present at last year's event, however, and four
classes of airplanes were slated for judging at this year's event,
including antique, scratch built, kit built, and ultralight.
Will the show go on? That depends on everyone involved agreeing
to an alternative venue that meets the show's needs.
For Hunt, the times are a changing.
"There's a new breed in town and this is not the way they did it
where they came from," he said. Some of the new guys have come in
with their new planes and they just don't want us up there (at
"I'm really sorry that they are not going to have their show,
said the Gradijan. "But, we offered them some reasonable
Canceled Show A Costly Decision
Canceling an annual
event, even once, does not come without consequences.
"Anytime you cancel an event that generates revenue and
excitement for the community," said Cottonwood Economic Planner
Casey Rooney, "it is a problem."
Event organizer Wayne Hunt said the show attracts thousands of
attendees and more than 100 entrants into the annual judge's
He acknowledged that although the event is not a moneymaker for
the airport, it stimulates community business and raises money for
the local chapter of the Civil Air Patrol.
"It pays for itself, but [more importantly] it gets people into
the community," said Hunt. "People who ride in, fly in, or
whatever, are going to stay the night here at the hotels and go to
"It's not only the money," Rooney said. "People come to the
community and bring relatives from across the country who are
interested in an event. Then, if it is canceled, the interest is
gone - it disappeared. It's not only the dollars that would have
been brought in that you're missing, but you're losing future
business by people not coming back."