I first posted a version of the following in September of 2013. This is my final shot across the bow at this tacky festival and its organisers, who continually seem to think that the general populace of our town want to keep throwing tax payer money at this thing. A majority of us don’t. The rest of you that do, let’s take a final look at the CEF and see it for what it really is below:
I always judge the importance of something or someone, in popular culture, by whether it has its own entry and Wikipedia page. The Collingwood Elvis Festival does not. It has a one line entry in the actual Collingwood, Ontario page but that is the only place you will find it. So this festival, that is apparently 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 warrant its own Wikipedia page. In fact take a look at this:
That is the Wikipedia entry on Elvis Impersonators. Did you see it? Did you see a few lines about the “The really important Elvis festival held in Collingwood every July”? No neither did I. Because in the 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 last years festival? Seriously I’m asking, if someone knows let me know. I do know that again the festival lost a staggering $75,000 which our lemming like town council approved unanimously to cover again back in February. Can you imagine the outcry if our town held a festival sponsored by Molson Coors, who ended making a hansom profit from the event but our town decided to cover a financial loss on the thing because it was unsustainable? This is only allowed to proliferate because of murky accounting practices and a complete absence any kind of financial accountability.
Elvis Presley Enterprises is the money making corporation that now handles everything Elvis, it has an eye popping net worth of over $300M. It makes more money now than when Elvis was alive. 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 has been shamelessly promoting this United States icon of popular culture every July for the past 20 or so years, how about EPE kicking some money back into the kitty to keep this CEF viable? Never going to happen because that revenue stream is a one way street.
The thing I’ve 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 maybe Elvis released a movie from the area called “Viva Georgian Bay”, that I never heard about? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “NO”. In fact when the king was alive I bet he couldn’t have picked Collingwood, Ontario, or even Canada, 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. Collingwood 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. It was promoted and grew in leaps and bounds, year after year, until it 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.
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. I will delay doing my banking, lawyering, accounting, Loblaws-ing. I will accept becoming a second class citizen in my local eating and drinking establishments, because for this one weekend they are suddenly packed with side burn toting grey hairs and hoop skirted blue rinses. I will even put up with the droning (mostly) amateurish Elvis music ear worming its way into my sub consciousness for 3 days. But stop picking my pockets to pay for it all, make it pay for itself, or better still make Elvis Presley Enterprises pick up the tab.