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Barrie Airshow to take summer flight

'It had to be well over 60,000 people,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Thomson of those attending the 2023 airshow.
The Northern Stars Aeroteam performs at the Barrie Airshow last summer.

Barrie Airshow will take to the skies above Kempenfelt Bay this summer.

The 2024 show will be part of Canada’s Military heritage celebrations, including the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Barrie city council has approved an $180,000 budget to deliver the airshow, with as much as $110,000 from the tourism reserve and the remaining $70,000 raised through sponsorship.

“I think any of us that have been to the airshow, especially over the last few years, have seen the success that it has had and the thousands of people that it draws to not only our waterfront, but into our downtown,” said Coun. Gary Harvey. “It’s definitely shown that it’s worth having on an annualized basis if the Air Force is available to do it.”

This year’s Barrie Airshow will include the return of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the CF-18 Demonstration Team.

That the airshow is popular in Barrie is an understatement.

“It had to be well over 60,000 people,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Thomson of the 2023 airshow. “It was spread all the way around the bay, both sides and it was incredible.

“Anything we can do to drive the public downtown, to show them the great stuff that’s going there, is great for the city.”

“It’s going to be great for the BIA (Downtown Business Improvement Area), great for the downtown,” said Mayor Alex Nuttall. “There will be families from everywhere to check this out.”

Harvey said he’d like to know how many attending the airshow are from outside Barrie, and potentially staying at area hotels.

Measuring the audience and the economic impact of visitors at the 2024 airshow is included in the $180,000 budget.

It also includes specialized insurance, marketing, programming in the downtown for the event, security and emergency service needs.

The military heritage celebrations planned for 2024 have provided the city with the opportunity to transition the air show from Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden and return it to Barrie’s waterfront this year.

The air show is being held in partnership with County of Simcoe and Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, along with CFB Borden.

There is no set date for Barrie Airshow, although the Snowbirds’ 2024 show schedule on its Facebook page shows them at Borden, Ontario June 15-16.

“I’ve been told it will be that weekend, but the specific date has not been worked out as of yet,” Harvey said Monday.

And there are likely more Barrie Airshows to come.

The 2024 city budget includes $10,000 to support any pre-work required to secure the city hosting an air show in 2025. 

April 1, 2024 marks 100 years for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the city is marking the century this year at Military Heritage Park, which is near Southshore Centre, on Barrie’s waterfront.

There will be a tulip garden in the shape of the RCAF roundel — an outer blue circle, white interior with a red maple leaf — as well as in-laid brick, also in the shape of the air force roundel, along one of the park’s pathways.

Canada’s Air Force, formed in 1920, was granted the Royal title by King George V and became the RCAF on April 1, 1924.

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, to open the way to Germany from the West. Victory in the Normandy campaign would come at a terrible cost, as the Canadians suffered the most casualties of any division in the British Army Group. 

In June 2024, Veterans Affairs Canada will commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in France.