Wednesday, May 04, 2011

4 MAY 11: Pigs On, Duck Out

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is nearby to hear it.... well, researchers attach cameras to animals these days, so that great question soon could be settled. But if an event falls off the calendar in Columbus and no one mentions it's gone, does that mean nobody really cared about it in the first place?

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: If you're waiting for the Aflac Outdoor Games to return to downtown Columbus - sorry. Your blog learned Tuesday they've been canceled for this year, but could come back next year. Isn't it amazing what can happen when the duck loses an official voice?

"We're looking for 2012," Mike Hilliker with the Columbus company Outdoor Events told me. I think he was talking about the return of the games downtown - but I didn't ask if he was thinking about running for office.

Mike Hilliker explained the Aflac Outdoor Games were moved from South Commons to the downtown area last year with the new whitewater rafting course in mind. The countdown clock for "Ready2Raft" has that opening on Labor Day weekend next year. So if rafters can't splash in the Chattahoochee River, jumping dogs can't splash above it.

The first two Aflac Outdoor Games were tied to Stihl Timbersports events. But that connection was sawn asunder lost last year, and Mike Hilliker said it was never the intent of organizers to "put on the show just to put it on." Thinking like this explains why Hilliker doesn't manage the Springer Opera House.

Last year's Aflac Outdoor Games were held on Memorial Day weekend - and one Ledger-Enquirer article called the event "successful." But Mike Hilliker revealed to me Tuesday the turnout actually was below expectations. The holiday weekend may have been a factor - but one TV station would tell you throwing in a fireworks show never hurts.

The website of the games was a sure sign to me this week that something was amiss. It's still promoting last May's events, such as archers aiming at a "moving target." Downtown Columbus has seen too much of this sort of thing recently, anyway....

Mike Hilliker noted the 2012 games will NOT necessarily have Aflac in the name. He said a sponsorship deal with the insurance company has expired. So it's possible downtown Columbus could hold the "Outback Games" - with archers shooting at pretend kangaroos.

(I'll admit I failed to cover the "Aflac Indoor Games," which went on as usual - Monday's shareholders meeting at the Columbus Museum.)

The only aspect of the Aflac Outdoor Games that's still going on in 2011 is coming this weekend. The "Char-Broil Pig Bowl" barbecue cook off will be held on Broadway, as part of the season premiere of "Uptown Market Days." So yes, we can say it - barbecue pork has been sliced from the games.

-> Why did one Columbus location suddenly suspend regular live poker tournaments? Check what we learned at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Now from pigs to bears, and more on the missing mascot mystery we broke here Monday. The general managers of the Columbus and Knoxville hockey teams have talked about the Ice Rink polar bear -- and I'm told they're equally puzzled about the claims of objections by Knoxville. Maybe that bear suit really is under repair at the cleaners....

Knoxville Ice Bears President and General Manager Mike Murray told me Tuesday he still doesn't object to the Ice Rink's bear mascot. He added Jerome Bechard of the Cottonmouths didn't know anything about the alleged dispute - and Bechard has a reputation for knowing a good fight when he sees one.

Mike Murray did take a semi-swipe at the Columbus Civic Center managers. He said Knoxville has two bear mascots, while there's "some kind of disconnect" in Columbus having "a snake and a bear." I didn't have the heart to tell him Boomer isn't exactly a snake - although the fangs are coming along a little.

(Part of me wonders if the polar bear mascot also runs the Ice Rink's website. It still wasn't updated Tuesday night, four days after the grand opening. Maybe it's like the pro football lockout, and the bear is holding out for a nicer-sounding name.)

We'll stay on this mystery like a Zamboni on an old sheet of ice. But now let's move on to other Tuesday headlines:

+ Fort Benning spokesperson Elsie Jackson told me the chance of Usama bin-Laden attending basic training years ago is "highly improbable." Jackson refused to declare it impossible, because his name might be on enrollment lists somewhere. But we can be thankful Benning's never had something like "School of the Asias."

+ Columbus Council held its first public hearing on the proposed fiscal 2012 budget. Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson told WDAK's "Viewpoint" she proposed ending city funding of Port Columbus because the subsidy is "exorbitant." It's about time those alleged ghosts in the museum started paying room and board....

+ Semifinal games were played in the Southern States Athletic Conference baseball tournament at Golden Park. Today's final round matches Belhaven against William Carey. Why William went into baseball management while Harry and Skip simply broadcast games, I have no idea.

+ Instant Message to 2010 Burkard Award winner Olivia LaBorde: Sigh -- you're gone, aren't you? Your biography isn't on the WLTZ website anymore. Your Twitter account has disappeared. And I truly hope you didn't get into a catfight with Stefanie Tiso over whose hair is better.

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