Fruitcake will not fly this January in Manitou Springs.
Organizers of the annual Great Fruitcake Toss said Thursday that several factors led to the cancellation of the event that was scheduled for Jan. 11.
According to the event Facebook page, "The change in venue, lack of sponsors, and the unpredictability of the weather have decreased attendance."
Leslie Lewis of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau echoed that assessment, noting that attendance began to decline in 2010 when the event was moved out of Memorial Park near downtown to the athletic fields at Manitou Springs High School. The event had been held at the high school in 2008, but moved back to the park for 2009 before relocating permanently.
"Moving it to the high school was great for the big (launch) devices, but it doesn't draw the crowds like the park," Lewis said, adding that increasingly more powerful fruitcake launchers began to send cakes into residential areas.
"When you hit businesses and houses, it's not a good thing," she said.
The high-powered equipment used in recent years has sent fruitcakes souring to distances "beyond measurement." Lewis said in 2013, one official distance was recorded as "destination unknown." The record hand toss is 415 feet, also set in 2013.
Lewis said about 200 people attended the 2013 event, drastically down from the most-attended fruitcake tosses. She said that in the first couple of years of the event and during years with the best weather, the toss would sometimes draw nearly 1,000 people.
The toss might be rejuvenated, Lewis said, if major sponsors can be found or another group takes it over.
The event began in 1996 after former Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce Director Michele Carvell came up with the idea after noticing that friends never wanted to eat fruitcakes they'd received as Christmas gifts.
The Manitou Springs event also inspired a National Fruitcake Toss Day, designated for people to throw out unwanted fruitcakes. The 2014 national Toss Day is Jan. 3.