Lift-off looks ahead to 20, while remembering its roots

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Balloons at Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-Off.

CORNWALL, Ontario - Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-Off has been a staple in Cornwall for 20 years, and with the second decade clicking off this week, organizers are hoping a return to its roots paves the way for a bright future.

Jason Jesmer, co-chair of Lift-Off, said the decision this year to go with a "less is more" approach to the hot-air balloon festival is expected to pay dividends when it comes to walk-up ticket sales.

In the past Lift-Off has included everything from live entertainment at the Lions Club Bandshell in Lamoureux Park, to acrobatic dogs launching themselves into the St. Lawrence River, vendors of all kinds and midway rides.

Oh yah - there's also been balloons.

But with budget pressures mounting, Lift-Off has been forced to pull things back a little bit. This year's event is still a showcase for hot-air balloons, and sales for rides are going strong.

There's also still a midway, and a full slate of live entertainment with the likes of Glass Tiger, 54-40 and a slew of local acts.

"We're really trying to concentrate on what we're good at - which is balloons and live entertainment," said Jesmer. "We're trying to strengthen the core product."

As a way of giving back to the community that has supported the event, this Thursday's concert lineup, headlined by Glass Tiger, is free.

Jesmer said it took a commitment from organizers, and a desire by the performers, to see the event come to fruition this year.

"The balloons are the core product - but we're really happy with the lineup too," said Jesmer. "We couldn't have done it without them helping out.

"Glass Tiger are really happy to be coming back. They're still really relevant and they will be a great show."

In addition to the acts already mentioned, Great Big Sea frontman Allan Doyle will perform, as well as Doc Walker.

As for family entertainment, the midway at Lift-Off will offer full-day passes every day of the event.

Jesmer said Lift-Off has reduced the number of vendors this year, in an attempt to increase revenue for those who will be selling their wares in the park.

"The vendors don't do as well when there are too many vendors," he said. "I'd rather have repeat business and see the vendors happy.

"We're trying to keep our community partners happy."

For more information on Lift-Off scheduling, ticket prices and event details visit their website here.

If you would like to volunteer at Lift-Off, click here.

Organizations: Lions Club Bandshell, Great Big Sea

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Lamoureux Park St. Lawrence River

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