Elvis fans and performers get all shook up with festival fever in Parkes
Father Dooley and his two sons Wira (right) and Rafa are already festival veterans. (ABC Central West: Donal Sheil)
Shaking off temperatures in the high thirties, along with humid conditions, tens of thousands of visitors have made the annual pilgrimage to the Parkes Elvis Festival in central west New South Wales to worship the life and music of The King.
Fans young and old drew inspiration for this year’s festival from the musician’s second-biggest hit song in the US charts, All Shook Up.
Now in its 27th year, the event is drawing hordes of spectators and performers from interstate and abroad, many who hold a lifelong passion for the rock’n’roll legend.
A tall and friendly encounter between Tyneal Johnson from Victoria and Elvis performer Big Bad Ted from the ACT. (ABC Central West: Luke Wong)
First time attendee Amanda Sales of Sydney remembers growing up with Elvis’s music throughout her childhood.
“We were born into Elvis. Mum was an Elvis fan and dad was a lookalike,” she said.
“Mum had every single record that she played for us, for our lullabies, when we were little.”
She was accompanied by her sister, Helen Coles, who flew from South Africa to attend the musical and fashion extravaganza.
As Elvis would have turned 84 this month, would this participant be an indication of what The King would look like now if he were still alive? (ABC Central West: Donal Sheil)
Ms Coles was particularly eager to hear renditions of Elvis’s gospel songs and was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the five-day festival.
“Amazing. I can’t describe it. I feel like I’m in heaven,” Ms Coles said.
Elvis tribute artists Jon Fleming, who goes by the stage name of Johnny Lee Memphis, was one of the many entertainers to grace the stage.
Japanese festival-goers Yukiko Maeda and Kunikida Kappa, inspired by Elvis’ love of martial arts. (ABC Central West: Luke Wong)
Mr Fleming, who is a former winner of the European Elvis Championships, felt honoured to sing in front of his peers at an event so far away from his homeland of Scotland.
“When you’re performing to Elvis fans it’s a sweet feeling,” Mr Fleming said.
“Because its not just performing for the general public who want to be entertained, you’re entertaining people who love Elvis as well. That’s a huge bonus.”
Parkes locals Darcy and Lilee Bell and Deegan Ingram get into the spirit whilst keeping cool in the vege aisle. (ABC Central West: Kristy Reading)
Street busker Joe Osimo had a relatively shorter trip from Melbourne for his second visit to Parkes.
He grew his sideburns for several months in anticipation of the event.
“I came here with my wife last year and I saw a whole heap of like-minded people,” Mr Osimo said.
“We could be totally [dressed like] Elvis and not worry about it.”
With the ongoing drought, the yearly summer festival is a much-needed financial and morale boost for the rural community of 11,000 people.
Event organisers expect more than 30,000 visitors to attend, injecting an estimated $15 million into the local economy.
“I would hope that people might come out because of the drought and support our community that is suffering,” Parkes Shire mayor Ken Keith said.
Enthusiasts aboard the Elvis Express train belted-out karaoke numbers on their journey to Parkes. (ABC Central West: Luke Wong)