Motoring festival tickets purchased at record rate

gmartin@islandpacket.comOctober 24, 2011 

Online ticket sales for the upcoming Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Fetival are up nearly 40 percent compared to last year, auguring unprecedented attendance at this year's motoring festival.

Already, more tickets have been sold than were sold online before last year's event. This year's Concours d'Elegance, which will be held at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, begins Friday.

Ticket sales to date are up 37.4 percent over last year's event, which attracted a record crowd of 13,000.

"What we're seeing is really encouraging," said festival president Carolyn Vanagel. "It shows just how established we've become, and how impactful word of mouth can be."

Vanagel also pointed to strong attendance at similar recent events in Pebble Beach, Calif., and Amelia Island, Fla.

This year's festival features a few new events, such as a partnership with the inaugural Public Art Exhibition. Held on the festival's final weekend, it will feature 20 large-scale, outdoor sculptures, most of which will be available for purchase.

Attendees can take in a "vintage" fashion show, the first of its kind at the festival.

Gov. Nikki Haley also will appear at the Concours d'Elegance for the first time. Haley is scheduled to visit Nov. 5 to celebrate the festival's 10th year and speak about its significance to the local economy.

Last year, according to statistics compiled by professor John Salazar and his students at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, festivalgoers spent about $5.3 million.

"We all just have our fingers crossed for good weather," said Vanagel, adding that she's too nervous to look at 10-day forecasts. "Everything's pointing to a record year."

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