This June's Elvis Presley Festival attracted more attendees and generated more money than any previous festival in the annual event's eight-year history. Roughly 9,700 people turned out at the June 2-4 celebration in downtown Tupelo - double the previous record attendance, according to Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association executive director Debbie Brangenberg.
The DTMSA organizes the event, which this year earned $335,325. Revenues came from corporate sponsorships, fan club memberships, fees paid by food vendors, the carnival and activities, and from the sale of tickets, beverages and merchandise. After subtracting the $275,448 spent on hosting the festival, DTMSA retains $60,985 in profits.
"We've been in the hole before, so it's nice to have this cushion," Brangenberg said at the association's regular meeting Tuesday at the CREATE Foundation.
The Elvis Presley Festival's executive committee voted to place $50,000 of that profit into a certificate of deposit or other interest-bearing account to be used as a rainy-day fund. Part of the remaining funds likely will be used to support a capital project downtown, although that project has not yet been determined. Organizers are looking toward next year's festival, which they hope will maintain - if not eclipse - this year's successes. To do that, they will need to "have more Elvis," said DTMSA assistant director Jim High.
"This year the Elvis influence showed us that it's a huge market for Elvis fans, and it attracted hundreds and hundreds of them from around the country and around the world," he said. "We'll continue to try to put as much Elvis in our next festivals as possible." That will include keeping a second stage for Elvis acts while maintaining a main stage for other headliners.
"We've doubled the size of our festival," he said. "There's no way to back up now."
A plan to fully support future festivals with corporate sponsorship is also in the works, with past president and organization committee co-chair Randy Burchfield saying getting more sponsors should be easier this year. "We struggled getting sponsors," he said, "but after this year we think it should be no problem."