EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. -- A long time Ozarks tradition is no more. Eureka Springs' famous Great Passion play has closed its curtain for good.
In September, play officials called for donations saying ticket sales were low. Now bank officials confirm the attraction is in foreclosure and there will not be a 2013 season.
The Great Passion Play is why Ken and Gayle Voiles moved to Eureka Springs to run a gift shop. It brought a steady stream of customers through their door.
“To see it closed and dark is so sad. This is the biggest loss ever for Eureka Springs,” said Gayle Voiles.
Tourists make up more than half of their customers. Now they don't know how long they can keep their shop open.
“It's going to kill us. Everything revolves around that play…It scares us a lot,” said Ken.
According to the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, the production brought in 7-9 million dollars to the City every year.
"That's a lot of money but we're also worried about the number of jobs lost. Over 200 people work there full time,” said Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce President Mike Bishop.
Officials say the play went under for a number of reasons including declining attendance, economic conditions and changing travel trends.
“It’s a sad day for many of us…it's part of our identity,” said Bishop.
The Chamber calls it an icon, what Eureka Springs is known for.
“45 years is a long time for an attraction to survive, we have to keep it going,” Bishop said.
The Voiles say the City and County should have done more to keep it running and aren't sure what could happen if it is not there.
“It is detrimental to not only our business but all businesses here,” said Gayle.
Residents and officials are hoping someone will step up and buy the property and play from the bank to continue with the tradition. Bank officials say a quick sale is possible and do expect a lot of interest in the property.
According to sources, the non-profit that runs the Play owes $1.2 million in mortgage payments as well as about $35,000 in back taxes and property penalties.
Bank officials say the foreclosure process could take weeks but the livestock from the show has already been sold to new homes.