DroneFest undergoes changes, but event still a go
BY JORDAN PARKER firstname.lastname@example.org
The first annual 2015 DroneFest, set to go at Antelope Lake in July, has undergone some big changes in these last few weeks.
DroneFest, the brainchild of Gull Lake resident Craig Baird, won’t be having the airshow this year, as originally planned.
“When we looked at all the costs we were going to incur for insurance, tents, security and other things, we decided to scale it back this year,” said Baird.
“Like I told the DroneFest committee, just because we scale back this year doesn’t mean we won’t get big. Think about Comic-Con. That started with a few guys in a hotel conference room. Now look at it.”
Baird first thought of DroneFest, which was originally supposed to feature numerous drones in an airshow, last year during Communities In Bloom judging.
“One of the judges got talking with me, and he mentioned he had a drone. I had one I use for filmmaking, and he mentioned an airshow like that had never been done,” said Baird.
“So I floated the idea around, and it was put under the Gull Lake Tourism banner. It would have been the first ever airshow of it’s kind in Canada.”
But time constraints and rising costs caused the airshow to be put on hold.
Baird still has workshops and a trade fair with drone companies in the works, along with a host of activities for children.
“We’ll have companies around who can talk about the uses of drones, and they can do demonstrations,” said Baird.
“They have operation certificates. We just have to wait a year for an airshow. There’s a great deal of planning with an event like this.”
Baird commended Transport Canada, who worked closely with the committee in the early stages of this event.
“They were using us as an example for if other areas wanted drone shows in the future,” he said.
“You need things like a flight director, specific security, a PA system and a site map to help people get out if there’s an emergency,” said Baird.
“Drones must be 300 to 500 feet away from the audience. There was just a lot involved and we were under time constraints.”
He said that rules regarding drones and their use can be strict, so it’s important to plan and comply in every way possible.
“When you have a drone, it can’t fly around towns. That’s breaking the law. We had to have this show eight kilometres from major highways, and we couldn’t be near a town or airport,” he said.
“We chose Antelope Lake because we have wide open areas, and with agriculture, we have a lot of farmers interested in drones also. A lot of people want to see the application of these things.”
The committee started making contacts and strides in December, and by January they had their first meeting. In February things picked up, but there just wasn’t enough time to accomplish everything this year.
“Things started to spiral and costs were going up. There are things we had to have, so we all decided to lower the cost, start small and make this thing great.”
Baird has heard a lot of positive feedback as things start leading up to the July 25 event.
“A lot of people are excited and a lot of people have heard about it. People want to come out. This is open to everyone. If farmers want to learn about drones for tracking livestock from their porch, they can. If they are curious about infrared for crops they can learn,” he said.
“Whether you have a passing interest or you are an enthusiast, everyone should come out. There are activities for old and young.”
The event will be at Antelope Lake Regional Park, chosen largely because of its seclusion.
“It’s away from highways, towns and large structures. It has a good layout and will be great for airshows in years to come,” said Baird.
Tickets can be bought at the door. There’s a $10 fee that goes to the park, then it’s $10 for the tradeshow and $25 for workshops. There will be door prizes.
The event is July 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there will be food served. If there are any questions, contact Craig Baird at 1-306-671-0055.
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