LIFT-OFF CANCELLED: Organizers pull the plug for this year

LIFT-OFF CANCELLED: Organizers pull the plug for this year

CORNWALL, Ontario – Lift-off has been cancelled for this year.

Officials with the popular hot-air balloon festival that has found itself saddled with some significant financial obstacles, including a mountain debt, made the announcement official in a statement to local media.

“The board was relying on raising funds to secure this year’s entertainment roster and to cover the remaining deficit from the 2013 Lift-Off festival which suffered a large loss due primarily to adverse weather conditions,” read the statement. “The board of directors of the Cornwall Hot Air balloon Festival has voted to cancel Lift-Off 2015 citing an inability to garner major sponsors.”

Terry Muir, chair of the event, said in an interview things began to pile up when news broke that city police may require cash up front to provide security this year.

“After the thing about the police was out, most of the corporate sponsors” pulled out, he said.

Seaway News reported in February the Cornwall police service is still owed as much as $5,000 for providing security for Cornwall Lift-Off last year and chief Dan Parkinson said his agency would think long and hard about providing security this year unless the bill is paid.

Fundraisers will continue this year and it is hoped the event will return in 2016.

“With less than three months until the 2015 festival date it was determined by the board that it would not have the time to raise the funds required and attract the talent that festival goers are anticipating,” continued the Lift-Off statement. “We are thankful for the evident support from the City of Cornwall which was a step in the right direction. We are hopeful the same or greater level of commitment will be in force when Lift-Off applies for funding for 2016.”

The board said municipal funds allocated for Lift-Off 2015 will not be requested from the City of Cornwall.

Muir would not confirm the amount of debt Lift-Off has incurred, preferring instead to wait until an audit of the books is completed by an outside accounting firm.

A draft Lift-Off budget document obtained by Seaway News in February showed some $67,050 in administrative costs that also includes previous debt accumulated by the festival.

Muir said the fundraising scheduled for this year will help to mitigate the debt.

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