Airfest Enters Its Second Day

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

There were planes, parachutists, and Philly cheese steak sandwiches out at the tarmac at the Rockford-Chicago International Airport on Saturday afternoon. And the airport wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I think it went over as a 92 out of about 100. Everybody that I saw went away thinking it was excellent and they're coming back tomorrow," says Bob O'Brien, the airport's executive director.

As the Airfest entered its second day, an old friend made its successful return to Rockford after being away for 20 years. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds had a commanding presence with all their aerobatic maneuvers.

"They're really good and they do a lot of tricks, they're really fast," says crowd member Antonio Lazaro.

But the second day was about more than just fast planes and parachutists. The crowd was treated to numerous displays of both military and civilian aircraft.

"It's fun-filled for five and a half hours and it just keeps on going," Bob O'Brien says.

This is the second year Airfest has wowed the crowds. The show was on a hiatus for years. If O'Brien has his way, this won't be the last.

"You keep on putting together a better air show, you get a reputation for hosting a good quality show and it just makes for an awesome thing and other people want to participate," he says.

And that suits audience members just fine.
"Its really surprising. A lot of people, very interesting, a lot of stuff to look at, a lot of planes and stuff," says crowd member Brittany Hutchison.
"Last year we had about 35,000 out here over a three-day event. Today we had close to 30,000 people just today," O'Brien says.

O'Brien adds events like Airfest help draw tourists to Rockford from all over the Midwest. If you missed today's events, don't worry. Airfest continues tomorrow. Gates open at 9 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children.


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