Let’s face it, in 2015 Elvis Presley is just not very COOL………


I published a version of this post last July, still relevant in 2015.

It’s that time of year again. No I don’t mean the summer trip to the cottage, or time to get the AC system serviced again. No it’s Elvis Festival time and subsequently VFAN’s yearly blog roasting of that same festival. Fortunately, this year they have returned to the original format. We get one less day than last year, of endless toneless droning encompassing the downtown core of Collingwood. This happens year after year like a nightmarish real life version of the movie “Ground Hog Day”.

When is this annual dose of self-flagellation going to end? In the run up to this event I have not talked to one local resident that embraces or even likes this festival. The mucky-mucks that are in charge of us, keep telling us it’s great for tourism. If making us the laughing stock of Ontario is good for tourism I can think of a lot cheaper, less inconvenient ways of doing so. Yeah those CBC and CTV news fillers covering this event are not laughing with us folks, they are laughing at us. When I try and explain it to my friends and family from out of town, they give me a look of bemused bewilderment and usually ask “and the towns connection to Elvis is???” Let’s face it ladies and gentleman in 2015 Elvis Presley is no longer cool. Elvis impersonators even less cool and I venture to add tacky. So what do you think the impression of a small town in Central Ontario is that embraces these two things? That’s right NOT COOL and TACKY. Take a look at some festivals that ARE cool: Wakefest – which has now left town. Ride for Sight – nothing is cooler than motorcycles, also left town. Corvette Days – very cool and long gone. It is way past time for this town to grab itself by its collective boot straps and start re-imagining itself. Maybe by having an annual Rock festival similar to the ones they have in England – Glastonbury, Knebworth, Hyde Park. There are loads of farmer’s fields (Bygone Days for instance:) ) that could be used for this purpose and as far as I know no one else is doing it in Ontario. What could be cooler for a towns image than “Imagine Dragons live in Collingwood” on the iTunes top 100 chart.

A very good friend of mine had a girlfriend a few years ago. That relationship reminds me of the Collingwood Elvis Festival and our town. It ended up being that the only thing he was getting out of the relationship was the Visa bill at the end of the month. Collingwood’s “girlfriend” costs us tax payers on average $40-50k per year to cover this festivals shortfalls. Last year even with the addition of the Elvis fraternities version of the “Queen of Sheba” Priscilla, it lost a whopping $75k. Including the stack of books that our feckless Mayor was conned into buying, that are now gathering dust in a storage closet down at town hall somewhere.

Keeping with the girlfriend analogy, sometimes you stick in a relationship because you are used to it and you are scared of the unknown. Then when it’s all finished up, you find that there is a whole world out there that you have been missing out on. What we are missing is a slew of mid-summer festivals and events, that are a lot more relevant to this town, area, province, country’s history and culture and maybe even a little more chilling and cool, than what we have already embraced with such abandon. Very little new and exciting is happening here because of our town hall’s collective attention seems to be on foisting this 1950’s and 60’s American popular culture icon on an unimpressed populace. Come on, last years papal like visit of Priscilla Presley?? She didn’t even spend one night in Collingwood flew into and out of town on her private jet. The local accommodations were not up to her impeccable standards. But our starry eyed Mayor spent as much time as possible in Priscilla’s god like presence, fawning and photo-oping all over her, it was actually quite sickening to behold.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying ban the festival or drive it out of town. But make it pay for itself. Meaning no subsidizing the event. Any town resources that go into making this event possible get reimbursed by Elvis Presley Enterprises in the form of a licencing fee. It should also pay for its own extra policing and EMS overtime costs. You would soon see this festival go the way of the way of flared pants and bushy sideburns.
I had hoped with a few new faces on town council, that we could finally start to see some open and honest conversation about this event and its future. But no they immediately fell lock stock into line in giving this event an open cheque book for three more years. Maybe we should have a few town hall type meetings to get the actual residents of this towns opinion on the whole thing. It is not a fate-accompli that we have to fund and host this event every year.

Like my buddy once said “The best thing I remember about Robyn was watching her arse walk out the front door for the last time”. Our town will collectively say the same thing after Elvis finally leaves the building for good.

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9 thoughts on “Let’s face it, in 2015 Elvis Presley is just not very COOL………

  1. Tweed, Ontario (just outside of Bellville) are having an Elvis Festival too. I think they are in their fifth year or so. I did see an ad on CKVR tonight and along with Elvis, they have lots of other things going on……..including WATER and a beach 🙂 Also, people have to know that the only people making money on this fiasco is ELVIS PRESLEY ENTERPRISES currently run by Priscilla Presley and the CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I for one do not believe that there has ever been a thorough and or detailed accounting of this event. It took nine months for the outcome of last year’s festival to become known to the public which is in this day and age with computerized accounting software is ludicrous. Forget the “staff” reports, show me a detailed and audited profit and loss statement because without that, an informed decision regarding the future of this event can never be made. A portion of last year’s loss was blamed on the “unknown” costs associated with bring Priiscilla Presley here. Really, we didn’t have a clear understanding of the costs and a budget going in for this? That is mismanagement at it’s best and someone should have been held accountable. It’s little wonder the event can’t even break even when such sloppy budgeting, accounting and management is in place. Unless someone can show me otherwise, the $75K loss from last year doesn’t even begin to include the wages etc. for town staff to organize, set up and clean up after the event. We can postulate all we want on this but I agree with VFAN, it is long past due that we focus on an event(s) for the Town that (a) celebrates the heritage of our community and our Canadian pride not some has been peanut butter and jelly sandwich eating drug addicted American icon from the 50’s and (b) is an event that we can build on for future generations that offers something for everyone including music, arts, crafts, food and more. Every product has a life cycle and we’ve past the best before date for Elvis. After 20 plus years this event should be a well oiled self sustaining machine and the fact is it isn’t. I write this from where I am every year at this time, at my cottage on Manitoulin Island away from the tax payer supported madness of Elvis.

  3. We have to hide during the so called festival. Starting this Monday, the phone will start ringing and people we don’t even exchange Christmas cards ask “Hey, whatcha doin’ this weekend?)
    Or, we get asked if they can park in our driveway and walk the six blocks downtown and return in no shape to drive home. Now that we are older and wiser, we don’t answer the phone, lock the house up and don’t turn on any lights. If the doorbell rings, we don’t answer.
    On top of the extra taxes we pay for this ‘dead duck’ we have had to feed and shelter people so they can come to Collingwood, get drunk, watch the Elvis Imposters, come back shit faced and expect we’ll put them up. The festival is not festive anymore, it’s had a good run at our expense and it’s time it left the building……….for good !!!!!
    I miss the Ride for Sight, I miss the Corvettes but I’ve had enough of Elvis to last me whatever time I have left…..I hope it pours rain. BTW, anyone thinking of calling us….we aren’t going to answer the phone and if you knock at the door…..nobody is going to answer.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. Why are the taxpayers still propping this turkey up. It scream’s a lack of imagination to me. It’s really just an embarrassment and I can’t get out of town fast enough.

  5. I’ve got to challenge you on this part my friend

    “I had hoped with a few new faces on town council, that we could finally start to see some open and honest conversation about this event and its future. But no they immediately fell lock stock into line in giving this event an open cheque book for three more years. Maybe we should have a few town hall type meetings to get the actual residents of this towns opinion on the whole thing.”

    Shortly into this new term, council DID ask staff to look into the Elvis Festival. STAFF REPORT PRC2015-09-C Collingwood Elvis Festival, was first presented on February 11 at the Community Services Standing Committee. These committee meetings are public, and anyone can get up an talk, ask questions, share opinions ect.

    (Read the staff report here http://www.collingwood.ca/files/Feb17_15CouncilAgendapkgsm.pdf)

    So all opinions of the festival aside, the new faces did start the conversation, didn’t stand on the status quo, and did provide a forum for public opinion.

    • Sorry Steve the open and honest conversation that I was looking for would have started with an immediate stop in funding and enabling this thing. On the 17th February this council voted unanimously to keep propping it up after it was announced that last year it lost another $75k. I was looking for action not continuing gab fests.

      • It may in fact cost the taxpayers money, but it’s incorrect to say that council voted to keep propping it up. The report reads,

        5. EFFECT ON TOWN FINANCES
        The festival model is designed to be a cost neutral with a surplus projected in the
        draft 2015 budget submission. The top priority for the festival is to manage the event to cost neutrality while continuing to provide a superior product and opportunities for continued growth.

        So until a final audit on the 2015 event is done, and we see what (if any) money is allocated in the 2016 budget for this event, you’re jumping the gun with your assumptions

      • Agreed Steve I probably am jumping the gun. But that is based on the fact that in the past this and previous councils have refused to stop enabling this thing. I believe that will continue. If and when that enabling stops I will post about it. My intention with this blog is to call things as I see them now not to predict the future.

  6. Some other vacation destination cities and towns are making money off our El-Fest too….from all the locals who LEAVE for the weekend because we can’t stand it!!

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