Adult Commentary about Collingwood Elvis Festival.


elvis
This post I hope, is the start of some real adult conversation about the Collingwood Elvis Festival:

I always judge the importance of something or someone in popular culture by whether it has its own Wikipedia page. The Collingwood Elvis Festival does not. It has a one line entry in the actual Collingwood, Ontario page but that’s it. So this festival that is so important to this towns identity, it’s such a draw, it brings so much worldwide attention to our towns tourist industry, doesn’t even get its own Wikipedia page. In fact take a look at this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_impersonators
That is the Wikipedia entry on Elvis Impersonators. Did you see it? Did you see a few lines about the “World’s biggest Elvis festival in Collingwood, Ontario”? No neither did I. Because in the whole world scheme of all things Elvis, Collingwood isn’t even on the radar.
How much money did we send off to Elvis Presley Enterprise’s after this year’s festival? Seriously I’m asking, if someone knows let me know. EPE is the money making venture that now handles everything Elvis. Nothing Elvis in the world gets done without handing a piece of the action to this company. Here’s a thought, being as our town is shamelessly promoting this American icon of popular culture, every July for 20 years. How about EPE kicking back some money into the kitty to keep this thing viable?
One thing that I have always wondered is WHY??? Why do we celebrate Elvis Presley in Collingwood once a year? Was this a favorite vacation destination of the King back in the sixties relaxing with his entourage down at the Georgian Manor Resort? Did he have a friend or family member from this area? Did he write a song about this towns ship building heritage? Or did Elvis do an unknown Mountie movie in the area that I don’t know about? The answer to all this in an emphatic “NO”. In fact when the king was alive I bet he couldn’t have picked Collingwood or Ontario from a map of the world. So again WHY? There are so many other things that are relevant to our local history, culture, geography that we could celebrate in a festival; and yet we celebrate someone who in the end was grossly overweight through hedonistic self-indulgence and was so addicted to prescription and other drugs, he didn’t know what day it was. Not much of a roll model.
Thinking about it, I will answer the WHY for you myself. This started as a talent contest in 1994, during the early nineties recession. The town was still reeling from the shipyards closure 8 years previously and the development of Blue Mountain into a four season mega resort, was still 10 years away. The town needed something to boost the local economy and this seemed to fit the bill. So it was promoted and grew in leaps and bounds year after year until it has morphed into what we see today. But that was then this is now. We have plenty of things to draw people to our town, it has become a summer and winter playground for the large population bases south of us, we don’t need it anymore.
So again I say, have your festival by all means. I will put up with the road closures and the whole of downtown becoming a parking no go zone and delay doing my banking. I will put up with the droning (mostly) amateurish Elvis music ear worming its way into my consciousness for 72 hours a year. But stop picking my pockets to pay for it, make it pay for itself.

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17 thoughts on “Adult Commentary about Collingwood Elvis Festival.

  1. Perhaps those businesses that benefit would like to contribute to the costs rather than the taxpayers. While these businesses benefit there are others that just shut down because their customers don’t come near the downtown Elvis weekend and there are others that experience a significant drop in sales for the same reason.

  2. Or how about a local marketing destination tax added to the bill for all Hotels. I travel around North America and somewhat the world and have to pay this all the time..
    In most cases it is from $5 to $10 a night extra depending on location.
    I am not about to see how many hotel rooms there are in Collingwood though….

    Is Elvis dead… yep… Does the festival make Collingwood a destination… Yep…. do I agree with the festival… not necessarily..but it does bring uniquely interesting people to the town…lol
    Is it for all businesses, nope..our town and area benefits many different business at different times with different things…

      • I think a room tax has been suggested previously, but can’t for the life of me remember why it wasn’t followed through on. From what I recall, tho’, is that it required the municipality to get Queen’s Park to pass legislation allowing the town to implement that charge. I will see if I can surf through our archives this aft., as I do remember writing about it…

  3. “Why do we celebrate Elvis Presley in Collingwood once a year? Was this a favorite vacation destination of the King back in the sixties relaxing with his entourage down at the Georgian Manor Resort? Did he have a friend or family member from this area? Did he write a song about this towns ship building heritage? Or did Elvis do an unknown Mountie movie in the area that I don’t know about?”

    Nobody, you are clearly not familiar with conspiracy theories that allege ‘the King’ faked his own death and is now living in the Southern Georgian Bay region. In fact, rumour has it that he has attended the festival several times and entered his own impersonation competitions (never managing to finish in the top 10).

  4. I think you have summed up the Elvis Festival rather succinctly. It’s been 20 years and the festival is not self sustaining. With each passing year it’s safe to say there are fewer Elvis fans alive to draw upon with the hope of ever making it a profitable venue. I suspect the projected $40,000 loss for 2012 does not begin to accurately reflect the countless hours expended by Town employees to run this event so I’ll wager with that accurately accounted for and factored in, the loss is double that or more. It’s long overdue that the efforts of our municipal government were put towards attracting some meaningful long term employment opportunities on which to replace the hundreds of jobs lost from our once strong manufacturing sector thus strengthening the local economy beyond one weekend a year.

    • I’m not sure about this $40,000 number that you put forward Rick. How do you evaluate the (additional) money that is spent in local businesses as a result of this event? As a real estate agent, the Elvis Festival probably makes very little difference to you. But what about a hotel? A coffee shop? A restaurant?

      Of course we need more ‘non-hospitality’ jobs in the local area; thats a given. But why link this fact to a criticism of the Elvis Festival?

      • Its the same with all festivals, soccer tournaments, Wakestock its not part of the equation with any of those, so why is the Elvis Festival different? I just say let it support itself, no more town topping up the losses.

      • Do the hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, ever provide numbers to the town to show roughly how much they benefit from the festival?

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