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Hollister
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May 21, 2022

Community Board: Hollister Airshow needs turnaround

There is no doubt the Hollister Airshow provides some level of promotion for the Hollister Municipal Airport, but the event has to get back in the black or near a point of revenue neutrality next year for the city to continue investing in it.
The Hollister Airshow lost $9,500 for the city and its airport enterprise fund for the 2015 event over Father’s Day weekend. It was the fifth consecutive year with a loss for the event, which started in 2009 when it was slightly in the black. While volunteers do most of the work putting together the event, the airshow budget excluded costs for work done by Management Services Director Mike Chambless, who organizes the airshow. That adds even more to the real cost because Chambless is paid $134,000 annually in base compensation and spends significant hours on the airshow.
Although airshow supporters are right when they point to the correlative promotion for the airport with several thousand people visiting the grounds, there comes a point when a responsible municipal government says enough is enough and stops bleeding money merely for the point of immeasurable promotional benefits. With the day-trip visitors largely isolated at the airport for the event, it doesn’t seem to generate a tremendous amount of ancillary economic activity— which could further bolster the case for acceptable losses— outside of the grounds.
Going forward, it’s time Hollister Airshow organizers tried some new strategies to mix things up.
They should move the date again so it’s not over a holiday weekend and avoid a conflict with the popular Columbia Fly-In. They should add a wider range of family-friendly entertainment to keep visitors busy while at the show perusing historic aircraft and watching performances overhead as they take place. Perhaps organizers could broaden the appeal by involving some of the groups and cultures that reflect this county’s heritage such as those in agriculture, motorcycling and sports. Involve the veterans. Schedule a few bands. Make it a community event rather than just an airport event. Reach out to all of the nonprofits and offer them incentives and discounted tickets for members.
Organizers will have to roll their sleeves up and get working. With a lot of competition and other aviation-themed events falling off the radar due to lacking demand, the Hollister Airshow in 2016 must show something special if the event is ever going to get off the ground.

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