Elvis re­mem­bered

Fes­ti­val in Aus­tralia cel­e­brates King of Rock ’n’ Roll

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By REUTERS in Parkes, Aus­tralia

Elvis may have left the build­ing al­most 40 years ago, but he and sev­eral clones have just ar­rived on a train chug­ging into Parkes rail­way sta­tion from Syd­ney, mark­ing the start of the 25th Parkes Elvis Fes­ti­val in the south­east­ern Aus­tralian town.

For five days in early Jan­uary, “the King of Rock ’ n’ Roll” lives on in this cel­e­bra­tion of all things Elvis, in­clud­ing a trib­ute con­test, a Miss Priscilla look-alike com­pe­ti­tion, a pa­rade and gala din­ner, and even a re­newal of vows cer­e­mony presided over by Elvis him­self.

This year, the iconic fes­ti­val is themed af­ter Elvis’ clas­sic 1964 film Viva Las Ve­gas, with fans don­ning not only rhine­stone-stud­ded jump­suits and their best wigs, but also se­quins and feath­ers, as buskers en­ter­tain the crowds.

Parkes’ pop­u­la­tion bal­loons to al­most dou­ble its size dur­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties, with or­ga­niz­ers ex­pect­ing be­tween 25,000 and 30,000 peo­ple to at­tend in 2017, but the con­cept was not al­ways wel­comed by lo­cals.

“I think there was a bit of a cringe fac­tor re­ally with most peo­ple, in­clud­ing my­self ”, said Parkes lo­cal and re­tiree Bob Boke­yar. “But I think we have come to love Elvis and love the fes­ti­val over the years.”

First held in 1993, the fes­ti­val was the brain­child of hus­band and wife Bob and Anne Steel, who then owned the Grace­lands restau­rant in this quiet town in New South Wales.

Jan­uary was thought to be the best time for the fes­ti­val as it co­in­cided with Pres­ley’s birth­day on Jan 8.

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