Increased cost brings bigger payoff for Elvis Festival

By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Debbie Brangenberg said the decision to increase the expenses for the annual Tupelo Elvis Festival by about $30,000 was “a calculated risk,” and one that she believes paid off.
Brangenberg is director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, which puts on the annual festival.
“I think we have shown, proved that it was the right formula,” she said.
The festival board decided to increase the entertainment budget for the festival to bring in more popular acts for the outdoor concerts held in Fairpark in downtown Tupelo last month.
Headliners for the 2013 event included Cowboy Mouth, Montgomery Gentry and American Idol contestant Skylar Laine, a Brandon native.
Board members echoed Brangenberg’s sentiment.
“Seeing people downtown, getting people in from other counties … that’s what the festival was designed to do,” said Jim Goodwin. “It’s easy to get lost in the numbers.”
Income from the 2013 festival was $54,460 according to the latest financial statement, down from more than $82,000 in June 2012.
Brangenberg told board members the numbers still are preliminary. Total expenses for the 2013 festival were in excess of $72,000.
Ticket sales were up more than $7,000 from the prior year and sponsorship income increased by $5,000.
The city of Tupelo is expected to contribute $75,000 to the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association by the end of 2013.
In addition to hiring bigger acts for the most recent festival, a Sunday morning gospel show and brunch were added to attract more guests. Brangenberg said the new event “was everything we envisioned and more.”
The 2013 festival was held in Tupelo June 6-9. The DTMSA puts on other Tupelo events including Wine Downtown, the Chili Festival and the Christmas Parade.
sarah.robinson@journalinc.com