Elvis Festival at a 'growth opportunity'

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

PICKWICK LAKE – The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association board focused on the future of the Tupelo Elvis Festival at its annual board retreat last week.
Board members, led by executive director Debbie Brangenberg, had a brainstorming session the same week they announced the 2011 festival made about $77,000.
“We are at a growth opportunity,” Brangenberg said. “We have overcome our losses from the past. We’ve put back our rainy-day fund. I’d like to see the board come up with a strategy for the future.”
The majority of the discussion was whether the festival should stay how it is or whether it should change to become bigger in Fairpark or have more Elvis activities.
Some board members mentioned the need for higher-profile entertainment acts at the Fairpark stage. But the bigger names come at a higher price, which means more risk, others said.
While there is a risk, board members said, the festival has made money in recent years to serve as a cushion if things don’t go well. The festival can return to a smaller event if the bigger acts don’t pay off, they said.
The board also discussed how they can add more Elvis flair to the Fairpark area, such as requiring all bands to play an Elvis song or getting tribute artists to perform between musical acts.
Also discussed was a ticket pricing strategy similar to Memphis in May, which sells deeply discounted weekend ticket packages weeks before the event. At the gate, ticket prices more than double.
Members also talked about ways to shore up attendance on Saturday afternoon, such as selling early-bird tickets or having a happy hour at the beverage tent.
Read the full discussion online: http://nems360.com/book mark/14785982/.
carlie.kollath@journalinc.com