Festival in Australia celebrates King of Rock ’n’ Roll
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.