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Blue Angels will return for Evansville’s ShrinersFest

EVANSVILLE – Mark Tedrow walked out of an Indianapolis convenience store when a large jet plane ripped down the street.
Everyone on the street stopped in their tracks, he said, mesmerized by the roaring blue jet as it soared through the air.
“Right
then and there I thought that was the coolest thing,” Tedrow said.,
saying that he thought to himself, “‘That looks like something I’d want
to do someday’.”
Tedrow is now a lieutenant commander for the Navy
and is a lead solo for The Blue Angels — the Navy’s flight
demonstration squadron. That famous squadron of roaring blue jets is
returning to Evansville’s riverfront for the 13th annual ShrinersFest
2015, the first time in a decade.
Tedrow grew up in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which had a minimal military presence, he said.
An athlete, the future pilot was recruited to play football for the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Tedrow said.
After
he completed his training, Tedrow flew F-18s on and off carriers for a
few years, always with the Blue Angels in the back of his mind, he said,
before eventually applying for the team in 2011.
“I’ve seen a
lot, done a lot in the last fours years, and it’s been a phenomenal
experience,” Tedrow said. “It is bittersweet because you’re trying to
enjoy every second of it but at the same time … you don’t want to screw
anything up.”
Tedrow said he and the other pilots will do virtually everything the Boeing F/A-18 Hornets — the Angel’s model — are capable of.
During
his solo maneuvers, Tedrow said he slows the jet down to about 120
knots and then takes it almost “right up to the speed of sound” at Mach
.95.
He said the planes can climb from 500 to 15,000 feet in 50 seconds.
“There
are a lot of people out there who have never seen the show,” he said.
“They don’t know what they’re missing, just to hear one of these jets —
airborne or on the ground — you can hear how loud and powerful it is.
It’s just this awe-inspiring.”
Hadi Shrine spokesman Dale Thomas said the budget for the air show alone is the same as the entire festival.
“We are a top-tier air show this year,” he said. “We are considered to be one of the top five air shows in the country.”
The
shows also features two other military acts as well as many other
talented pilots such as Air Force Major Bill Werth, whom Thomas calls
the “ain’t quite right” pilot.
“I’ve seen (Werth) fly upside-down
down a runway less than six feet upside down while his brother on a
motorcycle grabs the wings and handshakes it,” Thomas said.
The
pilots are noted to be the best in the world, he said, and he expects
more than 30,000 people on the riverfront that weekend.
Thomas became a Shriner six years ago during a time in his life where he said he needed to give back to the community.
“We
owe society a lot for our success,” Thomas said. “We don’t succeed on
our own. We succeed because people are there to help us move along.”
The
Hadi Shrine is a fraternal nonprofit organization that raises money and
assists children in need in the Evansville area. Across the nation,
Shrines support 22 hospitals.
The event — Wednesday through Sunday
— raises money to support the nonprofit and features a variety if
rides, food vendors, an arts and crafts show and free inflatables in the
kids zone, as well as live and local music acts all week long.
“This
is probably, by far, the largest ShrinersFest we’ve ever had,” Thomas
said, saying that last year they realized people needed to come down and
do more than just eat. They need something to do and something to see.
This revolution has brought many new attractions to the event and resurrected some old ones.
The Shriners have added a Bike Night featuring motorcycles, food and live music from Indianapolis band Tastes Like Chicken.
The
2015 Ultimate Air Dogs Tour, a competition where dog/human duos see who
can jump the farthest into a several thousand gallon pool, is also new
this year.
During the fest, the Indiana State Arm-wrestling
Championship and Indiana vs Illinois Border Wars, will take place. Also
new, The Evansville Philharmonic will conduct a patriotic themed concert
for the public.
A returning attraction is the military encampment
with vehicles from World War II, The Vietnam War and The Korean War and
will be the site of a re-enactment of the Invasion of Sicily.
Thomas
said that the people of Evansville have always wanted a sustainable
summer festival where they can enjoy the downtown riverfront.
“We
have a beautiful riverfront. We don’t probably take advantage of it as
much as we could or should sometimes,” he said. “So I encourage people
to come down and bring their kids.”

If you go:
Buttons
are available for $7 in advance and $10 at the gate (12 and under are
free.) They are needed to enter the festival on Saturday and Sunday from
9 a.m. until after the air show. Also, buttons are required to enter
the beer gardens.
Buttons are available at branches of Old
National Bank, German American Bank, First Federal Bank and Teachers
Federal Credit Union as well as at Bauer’s Tents & Party Rentals,
Hadi Shrine Temple, the LST 325, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and
Tropicana Evansville.
Gates Open:
2-9 p.m. Wednesday
9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday
9 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Invasion of Sicily Re-enactment
11:30 a.m. Saturday
2015 Vectren ShrinersFest Air Show
Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
For a complete schedule visit hadishrinersfest.org.

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