Elvis Presley climbed the charts with his music and he has climbed to the top when a festival is held in his name.
Dean Collver, Collingwood’s director of parks, recreation and culture admits that sums up the town’s Elvis Festival, which ended in 2019 after 25 years.
“Elvis began as a small movement that grew and grew. I don’t know anyone 25 years ago would have predicted it became what it became.”
Collver said the town invested and committed for a very long period of time.
Council unanimously decided last April the Elvis Festival would no longer be a municipally funded event.
Three groups that had expressed an interest in an Elvis-related event this summer backed away after deciding it would not be viable for them in 2020.
No doubt Elvis fans are all shook up about the end of the festival.
Collver said over the last five years the town was spending between $50,000 and $70,000 to host the event.
“Staff presented a report early last year that showed year-over-year declining attendance, costs increasing over that time.”
Collver said there were studies done every year and there was a decline in the economic impact the festival brought to the community.
Numbers provided to council by the town showed the festival reached its peak five years ago when nearly 30,000 people attended, the same year the festival attracted Priscilla Presley.
In 2018, the number was less than half that at just under 15,000.
Collver said council felt the time had come to look at redistributing resources in other directions.
The last weekend in July which was all Elvis for a quarter of a century is wide-open for this summer and Collver is not concerned that nothing has been penciled in.
“Would somebody fill it in with anything? Absolutely.”
Collver is confident someone will want to jump into a prime weekend like that. In fact, he said it is just a matter of time.
He said on average the last two years there have been 110 different event applications to the town in each of those years.
Collver said the Elvis Festival brought in a lot of money in terms of economic impact but council has the responsibility of looking at that investment to achieve that number and the return on investment became a challenge for them.
He said there were as many people who loved the business aspect of the festival and an equal number that felt it was a challenging weekend to do what they wanted to do.
Collver said over the years the Elvis Festival was challenged annually with regard to relevancy in Collingwood
He admits the town will miss the festival and his staff took a lot of pride in having produced it.
“We made a long relationship with many fans, but some rational decision making was made and the town will build on that decision.”