A Weekend at the Parkes Elvis Festival.
The 20th-24th of April saw the return of the Elvis Festival to the small town of Parkes NSW. Last year’s event was cancelled (you know why & I refuse to mention it…). This year the event, which should be held in January, was postponed till April (because of the same bloody thing). As I pointed out after my visit to Parkes in January, the event is normally coincides with “The King’s” birthday, January 8th (he would have been 87 this year). As it turned out the weather was great but definitely cooler than January. I am sure that was a great relief to those wearing the Elvis suits and wigs…
In fact, we never spent the weekend in Parkes. We had to stay in Orange which is just over an hour’s drive away because everything in Parkes itself was fully booked up. Accommodation for this festival gets booked out a year in advance (at least). We were not the only ones staying in another town. We saw several others in our motel. Still, it was a good couple of day visits and enough to leave us wanting more…
“Before Elvis there was nothing”
There as a great carnival atmosphere all over the town. The pubs were generally packed and the two stages ran a constant stream of tribute acts either directly Elvis related or 50s/60s themed. The main stage was in Cooke Park with the smaller “Memphis satellite stage” set up on the main street through the town (Clarinda Street). All acts were free to watch as were many others playing in the pubs or just on the streets.
There were some concerts that you need to book and pay for. Some of the more famous Elvis impersonators played gigs inside certain locations. I am sure these would be first class performances but they were all booked out. But because there were so many good free shows it did not matter.
We arrived midday on Friday. On the Saturday, being a lot closer, we arrived fairly early but still missed half of the parade down Clarinda Street. It also meant we couldn’t really get a good vantage point but it was still fun. Mostly a parade of Elvis impersonators, classic American cars (from the 1950s and 60s) and anyone who just wanted to dress up and take part (I guess).
Each festival has a theme. This year it was the 1968 movie Speedway (which I am sure I have seen but can hardly remember). It stars Nancy Sinatra opposite Elvis. So while the men were dressed as Elvis there were many women dressed in 60s flowered dresses with white boots – like Nancy in the movie.
Next year the festival will be in January again so it will be hot. Visitors may be pleased to hear that the theme next year is Blue Hawaii. Or at least that is what I read somewhere in the town. Shorts and Hawaiian shirts it is then…. Ideal for a hot summer weekend in January.
There wasn’t a shop, bank or office that hadn’t made some effort to get involved in the spirit of the Festival…
You don’t even have to like Elvis to have a good time – although it helps. It’s an excuse for a town-wide festival that’s part fancy dress, part booze-up, part music festival and part classic car show.
I’ll just let the photos do the talking…
See also: parkeselvisfestival.com.au