The Collingwood Elvis Festival turns 25 this year, and it could be the last party of its kind.
Organizers have announced this year’s theme is Homecoming, and tickets are now on sale for the signature shows, semi, and grand-finals.
“Home and family meant everything to Elvis Presley,” states a news release from the town announcing this year’s theme. “He felt his fans were like family, and he strived to never disappoint them. The Town of Collingwood shares that goal … the theme of Homecoming was chosen to recognize and reminisce with fans, friends, and family aboud all that makes Collingwood and Elvis so very unique and special.”
This year’s festival takes place July 26 to 28, and tickets are for sale online through Theatre Collingwood here.
After 2019, the Collingwood Elvis Festival could “reposition or retire,” according to a draft Parks, Recreation and Culture (PRC) Master Plan in the works in Collingwood.
Dean Collver, PRC director, said the 2019 Elvis Festival is part of the base budget. While the budget hasn’t been approved yet, a previous mandate from the last council, was for staff to plan two more Elvis Festivals (2018 and 2019) before re-thinking the future of the festival.
“Staff have been analyzing and developing scenarios and strategies to discuss with council regarding what happens after the end of the 2019 festival via a staff report to be delivered in the near future,” said Collver.
There’s also a recommendation in the draft PRC Master Plan to “reposition or retire” the Elvis Festival. That plan has not been received or approved by council yet.
“This recommendation was based on extensive public input,” said Collver. “It indicates that there should either be an investment in “repositioning” the festival, which would require council approval to add resources to change, grow, update, and upgrade the festival, or that it should be “retired” to redistribute resources to a new festival or other existing town festivals.”
Collver said his aim is to bring the PRC Master Plan to council in March, and he expected to present the Elvis Fest recommendations and staff report at the same time.
“The outcome will affect the 2020 festival season,” said Collver.
Council did receive two letters in support of the Elvis Festival, which were included in the Jan. 28 agenda.
Bev McCormick and Debbie Pye of Kingston, ON, submitted a letter saying they do not think the festival should be cancelled.
“Between paying for the tickets for the main shows in the arena and other shows, hotels, food, gas, parking, buying at your stores, it usually costs us between $2,000 and $2,500 each, which goes to your city,” stated McCormick and Pye in the letter.
Another letter signed “E.L. Martens” said the festival, while tacky, is a lot of fun for all age groups.
“It’s important to keep the festivities on the main street,” wrote Martens. “Move it, and lose it. Surely the merchants along the street don’t mind, or do they?”
The final draft of the PRC Master plan, which was presented during a public meeting Aug. 22, is available online for public comment before it goes to council.