Despite rumors of shake ups and even possible cancellations, AeroFest organizers today during a press conference ensured the multifaceted festival is still going as planned and preparing for its inaugural debut on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley Field.
Expected to draw in large crowds from around the region with music, art, sports and education, AeroFest’s mission is to “actively improve the lives of America’s injured warriors through a confluence of talent, vision and technology that has never been seen before in the production of a live event.”
The festival is set to bring in a wide variety of musical talent to Mobile, while also generating money for The Independence Fund, a non-profit organization focused on assisting service men and women, who have been affected both physically and emotionally.
While showing support and raising awareness for veterans is AeroFest’s primary goal, the festival boasts several events-in-one and has collaborated with Titan FC to host “A Night of Champions” with 14 Titan FC bouts, including four title fights to be televised on CBS Sports and viewed by over 93 million people nationwide.
According to organizers, this will be the first nationally televised, mixed-martial arts (MMA) fight in Alabama since the Alabama Athletics Commission was first formed. The MMA events will take place in one of the aeroplex’s main hangars and veterans will enter the arena to a hero’s welcome.
In addition, the festival will also include a motorcycle “Indy Ride” from Bayou la Batre to AeroFest, “Hero Games” tailored for injured veterans, which will include wheelchair basketball and other activities, Arts Alive! and Art Party, classroom education events, various exhibits, a career fair and business symposium.
“We’ve had an amazing amount of traffic, amazing amount of conversations and inquiries. A lot of people are asking about all the different aspects of the event, and that’s one of the challenging pieces to this,” AeroFest co-founder Steve Barshov said. “People really aren’t clear on what’s going on, and a lot of that is by design.
“Every meeting we did, something else bolted on,” he added, noting the festival’s many components.
AeroFest organizers are slated to release a daily schedule grid later today, and Barshov said the detailed schedule will help people understand how so many events will be packed into one festival.
“I think it’s all going to come together,” he said. “I think it’s really between now and then, and telling the story in a definition – Friday and Saturday this is what’s going on – is going to help everyone understand what it is.”
According to Barshov, ticket sales have picked up since Mardi Gras, and he said festival organizers anticipate 15,000 in attendance during the weekend-long event. Further, the festival plans to launch an initiative to provide free tickets for injured veterans, he said.
Music acts, including Big & Rich, Matisyahu and Dawes, among others, will be spread across main stages within the 20-acre field while Arts Alive! will have its own stage in a separate area, which will not require an AeroFest ticket and will be free of charge to all patrons, who wish to attend.
Barshov called the AeroFest team “bar none” and “one of the best ever,” comprised of individuals who have helped with nationally known festivals like Buku, Bonnaroo and Coachella.
“They’ve stepped up and they are just amazing at what they do and how efficient they are and then they allow us to be able to do all of the relationship building,” he said. “So, this whole thing boils down to a thousand plus moving parts and individuals that all literally have come to the table for the right reasons.”
“It’s like the stars aligned for this event,” he added
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson was also in attendance at the press conference to show his support, saying AeroFest is another opportunity to come together as a community and show appreciation for veterans who have served their country.
“There are so many reasons I am proud to be the mayor of Mobile, but one of them, certainly has to be because of how our community has such a vibrant group of veterans and how we treat our veterans … I’m very hopeful we’re going to have a great turnout for this,” he said. “I’m hoping and calling upon our community to really step up and step out and come and support AeroFest. I think we’re going to have a huge impact.”
While parking details for the event have not been confirmed, Barshov said organizers expect about 1,000 on-site parking spots and about three to four shuttles, which will transport visitors to Brookley Field from various places downtown.