Future of Blackpool's AirgameZ base-jumping event is up in the air
One of Blackpool’s most unique annual events faces the axe after its founder said it has become harder to fund each year.
The ‘Blackpool AirgameZ’, a BASE jumping event and the only UK competition of its kind, has been held on Blackpool’s seafront in South Shore for the past four years but this year’s event may not go ahead if the funds cannot be found.
The AirgameZ was brought to the resort by BASE Jumper, Julian Deplidge, who lives in Cleveleys.
After seeing the “need for some fresh and inspiring entertainment” for children and adults, the 39-year-old worked alongside Blackpool Council to deliver the first event back in 2014.
He said: “The council have been fantastic and really supportive of the event each year but we understand the event needs to be funded privately and despite getting support in the past from local businesses, I have had to put a lot of my own money into the festival so it can go ahead.”
Julian explained how the 480 ft crane, which has to be transported by five lorries and takes 10 men to construct, costs most of the budget.
He said: “To hire it for the weekend it can be more than £20,000 and even then it has been heavily discounted. We negotiated fantastic rates with local companies who provide our event support, but even with this, we can’t continue to produce the festival in South Shore without some support from the community.”
More than 300 experienced BASE Jump competitors have taken part in the event since its inception and in the last four years, they have completed more than 2,600 jumps from the crane.
A funding page with a £10,000 goal has been set up by Julian, inset, and he hopes he can find “goodwill” from local businesses.
“At the moment the only people who have donated to the fund are some of the base jumpers who take part in the event. The event means a lot to them.”
Julian, who is a producer and manager for theatre ice shows, says the event has never been about money but having a good time and putting on a show.
He added: “We could do it cheaper in a field next to where the crane is but it’s Blackpool which makes the event for me. We have all the pubs, clubs and community here and it is great to put on a show for the residents.
“It brings a smile to my face when I see the local children watching all the jumpers.”
“We have got jumpers coming from places like California, Brazil and Australia purely just to take part in this event. It’s good for the town and brings money into the resort as well.
“At the end of the day it is about everyone having fun and enjoying themselves.”
If the funds can be raised, Julian said he hopes it can be held on the August bank holiday weekend.
A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “We work with many events organisers to bring new and exciting events to Blackpool.
“Over the past few years we have worked closely with AirgameZ in order to help make it a sustainable annual event for the South Beach area.
“We have had discussions with the organisers to explore ways in which they might be able to generate the sort of financial support that will enable the event to continue.”
The funding page to donate to is www.gofundme.com/helpsaveblackpoolairgamez