Elvis Fest attendance soars in 2012

TUPELO – Elvis Festival attendance was up 80 percent at the event’s Fairpark stage, organizers said Tuesday.
Officials with the Downtown Tupelo Main Street board on Tuesday estimated about 4,500 people were at the Fairpark events over the weekend. Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the organization, said the figures are a rough estimate of sold and complimentary tickets.
Last year, Main Street said 2,503 people attended the events.
“Our strategy of fewer, bigger, better acts and sticking to one genre worked,” said Jim Goodwin of Main Street.
The organizers focused on country music this year. Paul Thorn was the headliner Friday night and David Nail and Little Big Town headlined Saturday night.
Goodwin said about 1,200 more people attended Friday night compared to last year.
“Paul Thorn throws a good party,” he said.
Goodwin also cited the pleasant weather – sunny with temperatures in the 60s and 70s – and the new ticket price structure. Tickets were $10 Friday night and $20 Saturday. Advance tickets were $24 for the weekend.
Brangenberg said she is crunching numbers and won’t have the festival income finalized for at least a month. The organizers also are working on tallying the total attendance. The numbers released Tuesday don’t include the sold-out events at the Lyric Theatre, the carnival, the parade, the gospel concert or the simulcast outside of the Lyric.
Plus, Park Heights sold tickets for a rooftop party overlooking the festival.
“It’s a happy ending,” Goodwin said. “We just don’t know how happy yet.”
The Elvis Festival last year made about $70,000. It has made at least that much every year since 2008.
The earnings came after an aggressive effort from organizers to cut costs and make the festival pay for itself. In 2007, the festival lost about $46,000 and Main Street had to wipe out its rainy-day fund.
Now, the rainy-day fund has $52,400 – fulfilling one of the conditions from the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau to continue its $50,000 sponsorship of the event.

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