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Cedar City hit hard by canceled summer events

Posted at 7:22 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 21:29:18-04

CEDAR CITY — Cedar City businesses expect to lose millions of dollars after the cancellation of the popular Utah Shakespeare Festival and Utah Summer Games.

“It is a huge deal. It’s major,” Charlene Elsasser said.

The Tony-winning Shakespeare festival draws 100,000 tourists to southern Utah. For Elsasser, the owner of Amid Summer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, the cancellation is devastating.

“The money that we bring in during this time, we live off of for a year. That money that we make in the 14 weeks, mainly July and August, pays our bills for the year,” Elsasser said.

Elsasser said most of her festival bookings have canceled within the last week.

“It has made a big difference,” Elsasser said. “We are not going to make anywhere near the money we would have made had the festival been going on.”

Concerns over COVID-19 canceled the festival which brings in roughly $35 million to the Iron County city each year, according to Mayor Maile Wilson.

“It’s essentially our community’s Black Friday. This year, it’s going to be a struggle here,” said Mayor Wilson.

The Utah Summer Games was also called off which would have brought 40,000 more people to the area.

“They ripped the BandAid off the same day that they made the announcements that both would be canceled this year,” Mayor Wilson said.

Several businesses tell FOX13 News they are trying to entice visitors to other tourist options, but know summer will be short of the usual “drama."

“You do what you have to do. We are updating rooms, we are landscaping, we are talking about putting in a gazebo. We are doing whatever we can do to make it better for when the season does start again,” Elsasser said.

Like many other communities, Mayor Wilson expects Cedar City to receive a deep cut in tax revenue that will affect the city long term.