Festivals have city rocking and rolling

Many city businesses were rockin’ and rollin’ all the way to the bank Monday morning thanks to a pair of hugely successful weekend events.

Popular Elvis tribute artist Corny Rempel of Steinbach

Many city businesses were rockin’ and rollin’ all the way to the bank Monday morning thanks to a pair of hugely successful weekend events.

The economic injection into the local economy from the annual Peach City Beach Cruise and Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival is once again estimated to be in the millions of dollars.

Tourism marketing manager Jessie Campbell of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce feels the cash infusion comes at a critical time for city businesses.

“These two events, which are incredibly well organized and have a loyal fan following which just keeps growing, are really the kick off to our summer tourism season,” she said. “They also come prior to our peak time when everything is full anyway — during the shoulder season.

“The benefit is not only to hotel bookings, which are always strong over this weekend, but the restaurants, other retail and the attractions that really see an influx of business during this time.”

According to the manager, what makes the festivals of added value — especially in the case of the Beach Cruise — is the draw from outside the region.

“Inbound visitation is certainly a focus of these events and these two festivals have proven themselves to drive visitation from outside of Penticton,” said Campbell. “Therefore those are incredibly valuable dollars coming to the city, it’s new dollars for Penticton.

“And what’s cool is that on Friday there was already a long lineup downstairs at the visitor centre to purchase 2012 Elvis Festival tickets.”

She added they also go a long way to building an identity and brand awareness for the city, not only in terms of bringing people back for those events, but returning for holidays or other activities.

“That includes shows which might be playing at the South Okanagan Events Centre or some other great outdoor adventure which will encourage people to put Penticton on their must-visit list,” said the manager.

Chairman Terry Michels of the Elvis board of directors noted this year’s, albeit unexpected, move to the SOEC for the weekend showcase event was terrific.

“Our Saturday night attendance at the events centre was up about 40 per cent over the best year we ever had at the trade and convention centre,” he said. “I think the venue was part of it, so was the calibre of the talent we had and the fact it was the 10th anniversary.”

Nearly 1,800 fans attended the show to see Shawn Klush, winner of the Ultimate Elvis tribute artist contest and named The World’s Greatest Elvis tribute artist by the BBC.

The sanctioned Penticton event is one of less than 30 in the world.

“What brings people here now is they realize we put on a really good show,” said the chairman. “We don’t even have to announce who the entertainment is, people just know they are going to get a full-value production.”

He added while having the two events on the same weekend has put a strain on some local resources over the years, the pair has become a “natural match.”

Both he and Ron Muzzillo of Historic Automobile Society which puts on the Beach Cruise credit all their respective sponsors and the hundreds of volunteers.

From the glitz and glamour of the stage to the shiny metal on the street, thousands of people viewed the nearly 800 vehicles during the Cruise days.

“Apparently cars are still popular with people because time and again we had people coming up to us and saying this is their favourite show,” said Muzzillo. “Every year the people just keep coming and coming and we get more and more cars.

 

“It is a big draw whether they’re a car fan like many of us are or they just love to look at cars. For some it’s nostalgia, ‘I used to have one of those and I shouldn’t have sold it’ — that sort of thing and the entertainment, you just can’t get anything like that for $2.”