The Elegance at Hershey, one of the premier concours d’elegance on the East Coast, has canceled its 2020 event due to financial issues, the organizers announced Friday, although leaving the door open to resume the show for 2021.
The Pennsylvania concours, held for the past 9 years in the town made famous for its chocolate, was scheduled for next June in the gardens of the historic Hotel Hershey. The three-day weekend has been punctuated by vintage race cars competing on the uphill road behind the hotel, known as The Grand Ascent, for two days before the Sunday concours.
What the organizers are calling a hiatus for the 2020 Hershey concours was prompted by the event’s decreased ability to donate to its charitable causes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Antique Automobile Club of America Museum and the AACA Library and Research Center, according to the organizers. During the past 9 years, the concours has donated more than $1 million.
“From day one, we have been guided by the principle that if we could not make a substantial difference to our charities that there would be no reason to exist,” event chairman Michael Rich said in a letter announcing the cancellation.
Vice chairman Steve Moskowitz noted that the organization strives to present a concours d’elegance at the highest level for participants and the public, while still providing a strong donation to its beneficiaries.
“It basically came to the fact that running a first-class concours, not cutting corners, trying to do everything the best you can for the public, for the car owners, for the volunteers, for everybody involved, for the community, requires a lot of money,” Moskowitz said in an interview. “The location of The Elegance is a small town with not a lot of huge population around it or major corporations that can help sustain an organization like ours.
“And the one caveat that we had when we started this the first year, if we could not make a significant contribution every year, and that contribution was at least $100,000, then it wouldn’t be ethical for us to put on a big party and then donate just a little money.”
For the past two years of The Elegance at Hershey, the donations were made, “but not the kind of money we donated in the first 8 years or so,” he said.
“There was no light at the end of the tunnel where we were going to bring in new money in order to make this happen. Even the big concours are fighting for those dollars now. It’s tough.”
After this past June’s show, the governing board voted to disband, Moskowitz said, although enough people spoke up as willing to help that the board decided to take go on hiatus for 202o instead of shutting down entirely.
“We’re looking at let’s take a break for a year and try to come back the following year if in fact we can get enough sponsorship dollars that we can make this a viable deal and every year make a significant difference to charity,” he said.
The June 2019 concours was a highly successful event, Moskowitz said, even though the charitable fund-raising was not up to par.
“This year was a phenomenal year, great weather, a phenomenal show, a huge contest for Best in Show,” he added. “It seemed to most of our board that going out on top is far favorable than letting this thing dwindle or be one of these concours that are more than willing to have a great party but not make a significant donation to charity.
“If it’s meant to be, we will be back, and if it’s meant to be, we’ll be back bigger and better than ever.”