GARY | The 14th annual South Shore Air Show may fall victim to impending automatic federal spending cuts, tourism officials said Wednesday.
The air show, scheduled for July 12 to 14, is slated to include the F-22 Raptor, the MV-22 Osprey and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, according to a release issued Wednesday.
But unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester, are set to take effect. Under sequestration, the U.S. military jet teams are grounded until further notice, and additional military support for air shows will be suspended.
Officials in Indianapolis and at Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base, Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base and North Carolina’s Seymour Johnson Air Force Base already have canceled their air shows.
As of Wednesday, the South Shore Air Show's fate was uncertain, according to the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, which organizes the show.
"It's not just about the military acts — although they are a huge part of our show," Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, said in a statement issued Wednesday. "For many reasons, we cannot wait until late March or April to make a decision if the show will be a 'go' or not.
"Food vendors, merchandisers and sponsors are not going to wait around until the 11th hour for us to make a decision," Batistatos said. "These business professionals are going to maximize their resources with other events, those not impacted by federal budgeting constraints."
Batistatos said the show's organizing committee will keep a close eye on what happens at the federal level Friday, then make its decision.
"This is a very unfortunate circumstance, and it's a difficult decision" he said.