MACOMB – A clear Sunday morning skyline was dotted with planes visiting the Macomb Municipal Airport for the annual Fly-in/Drive-in pancake breakfast served by Colchester Lions Club.
The annual event is an opportunity for area residents to see a few special airplanes, enter a raffle to win a free airplane ride in a Cessna 172 and attend the American Farmer Tractor Show.
“We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. I think already we’ve had more planes fly in this morning than last year, and I am just going by looks,” Bill Butcher, vice president of the municipal airport, said.
Although the Macomb Municipal Airport doesn’t get much attention, it should.
“We have about a $2.5 million dollar economic impact on the West Central Illinois area every year,” Butcher said.
The economic impact is provided through crop dusting services.
“It brings income just like the Heritage Days brings income,” Butcher said. “People come and they use motels, they use restaurant businesses and everything like just as any event whether it be the car show downtown.”
“On a regular basis, we have six or seven businesses that use the airport – corporate planes coming in from Kunes Country, who have their own plane they fly in, and Pella, Yetter Manufacturing, and Methode Electronics out of Carthage. They house their planes here,” Butcher said. “And we have a couple of seed companies who fly in and out of here.“
Rodger Hodges, who wears many hats as a Colchester Lions Club member and organizer of the pancake breakfast, said the benefit of community members supporting one another in their events goes beyond the amount of money raised.
“This annual fly-in receives a major amount of community support,” Hodges said. “Altrusa comes out and helps serve all this stuff. And we have a lot of other volunteers from surrounding areas that come and help us make this happen because the Lions Club – I think we have 45 or 50 members, but that isn’t enough.”
Altrusa is an international woman’s service club focused on literacy with local chapters spread across the nation, including a chapter in Macomb.
Preparations leading up the annual event took their course over three days setting up the dining area inside the main hangar. “We’ve been moving out here for three days with lots and lots of trailers and lots of equipment,” Hodges said. “We’ve never counted up how many dollars are, but it’s a substantial amount.” Hundreds of area residents ate at 48 lifetime picnic tables, “and those are $130 apiece,” he said.
The Woman’s Club in Macomb does the Bazaar at the high school during the first weeks of December. “They fill that whole common ground and a lot of the other hallways out there with a big bazaar – it’s a major event,” Hodges said. “We, the Colchester Lions Club, help them move their vendors in. So, they help us, we help them.”