BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — For the first time since 1998, Batavia’s one-of-a-kind professional airshow is set to return to Genesee County, as County officials and business leaders are reportedly joining forces to make it happen.
The “Wings Over Batavia” festival has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 15-17, 2023 at the Genesee County Airport on Saile Drive. It is scheduled to take place in conjunction with the renewal of the City of Batavia’s Wing Ding event on Sept. 16.
The festival has been described as a family-oriented event, featuring awe-inspiring aerobatic jet teams like the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds or Snowbirds, as well as patriotic displays of F16 and F22 fighter jets.
“We are in the process of putting committees together to handle the various aspects of conducting a show of this magnitude,” said County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, who also oversees operations at the airport. “We haven’t had an air show since 1998, and it’s long overdue.”
Batavia entrepreneur Peter Zeliff is set to serve as the chair for the festival, with assistance from Doreen Hillard of Fort Worth, Texas, who has years of experience in the air show industry across the U.S.
According to the County, Hens has presided over two meetings attended by emergency services staff, as well as municipal and agency representatives. At a meeting Wednesday, Zeliff said the committee is pursuing a promoter: Dennis Dunbar, director of Air Show Operations for EAA AirVenture and president of Dunbar Airshows. Dunbar hails from Wisconsin.
“With Doreen and Dennis on board, we know that our show will be first-rate,” Zeliff said. “And with the community’s support, we believe this is something that can take place on an annual basis.”
Zeliff also said he has already been in contact with Genesee County business owners regarding sponsorship of the show.
“It is going to take a lot of financial and volunteer support to make this happen, and we’re counting on the people of the GLOW region to come through,” Zeliff said.
Residents interested in volunteering in the planning and on-site operations of the air show are asked to contact Tim Hens at email@example.com.