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Early arrivals at EAA AirVenture exceed expectations

(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 8:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 8:34 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The sound of airplanes overhead is beginning in Oshkosh as the city prepares for the start of EAA AirVenture.

The event was canceled last year because of the pandemic, so many are arriving extra early this year in anticipation.

The sound of setting up right now is just about everywhere on the grounds, among both vendors and campers, excited for the week that lies ahead.

“I mean this year just super excited about it. I can’t wait to get back out there. The fun of it is parking all of the planes, seeing everything, but yeah, that’s why we get up her early and get things set up and just have fun with that,’ said Jeff Gaulden of Elkhorn.

Many of those coming early say the crowd already seems larger than normal.

EAA officials says advance ticket sales have been strong, which is a good indicator of what’s to come.

EAA spokesperson Dick Knapinski added, “The biggest thing, people talking about 2019 as last year and then they stop themselves and go, oh yeah, that was two years ago, but still, seeing everybody come back, picking up those conversations again, renewing friendships, that’s probably the most gratifying thing this week that we’ve seen.”

On the campground, groups of people were already gathering who wanted to beat the weekend rush of checking in.

Brittany Toslek of Racine said, “This is kind of the beginning where you know everybody is just slowly starting to show up. By tomorrow more of our group will be here, and you will start seeing more and more people coming in and the mass arrivals are usually Saturday and Sunday.”

Other air shows have also seen a surge in attendance.

“I think if it’s anything like the Florida show, they didn’t know how big a crowd they would have in Florida and they set records. They had to open up some farm fields for campers and it’s been like that. So I kind of expect this will go the same way,” Phil Risley from Florida said.

Overall, attendance is expected to top more 600,000 people throughout the week, but EAA officials do expect the number of international visitors to drop with some countries still having their borders closed.

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