Sunday, December 5, 2021

Elvis exits Lake George

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The Lake George Elvis Festival, after 20 years, is no more.

“I’m sorry to let you know that the 2019 Lake George Elvis Festival was our last!” organizer Jason Sherry announced in a letter to supporters and vendors.

Mr. Sherry said the planned sale of the host site, the Lake George Forum, to Boats by George (which subsequently fell through) and then “the uncertain nature of the property under sale”— plus the Covid crisis — “forced us to cancel the festival scheduled for this June.”

He said he considered bids from other local venues, including the Cool Insuring Arena, but found none appropriate to the event and its older audience demographic.

Mr. Sherry tells The Chronicle that the Festival plans to move to a new New York State location this year, but with the contract not yet signed as of Tuesday press time, he could not disclose where.

He said it is a one-stop venue, with performance space combined with lodging.

“It will be a lot easier than in Lake George, working with four hotels, 15 restaurants and bars in town,” as well as the main performing space at the Forum.

Mayor Bob Blais called the loss of the Elvis Festival “a shame,” especially as the franchise started here. As a June event, it bolstered the tourism shoulder season.

Lake George is and has been our cornerstone event. It is the largest of our festivals to this day,” said Mr. Sherry.

He said, “If there was a space available we would have stayed here forever.”

The last Lake George Elvis Fest in 2019 drew “well over 40 performers,” Mr. Sherry said, “and it has close to 2,100 people in attendance annually.”

“I remember back in the day when the tourism department recognized that passive nighttime entertainment was the element missing from the Lake George marketplace, 20 years ago” — which led to founding the Lake George Elvis Festival.

He said that it’s the nation’s biggest Elvis event outside of Elvis Presley’s hometown of Memphis “and has been for a long time.”

Mr. Sherry, who briefly managed the Lake George Forum himself, expanded the Lake George Elvis Fest to encompass about a dozen tribute artist events in cities around the country and on cruise ships.
He was a regional tourism professional
who took over the Elvis Fest 16 years ago.

He founded Sherry Management and built a broader-based tribute artists presenting company recently renamed TributeFestival.Rocks.

Mr. Sherry said, “It’s a good business, fun and not too stressful — not that it was the best business to be in this year, with Covid. But all things considered I’m not going to complain.”

He didn’t rule out a return to Lake George. “You never know what the future will bring.” But, “at this point, we have no expectation of returning to Lake George for 2022.”

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