Parkes Elvis Festival returns to regional NSW after two year break due to COVID-19

The blue suede shoes have been cleaned and partygoers are ready to rock, rock and roll as the iconic Elvis Festival returns to Parkes.

This iconic event has been going on since the early 1990s after some locals decided to celebrate the King’s birthday in style.

However, this major regional event has not been held more than two years after the 2021 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The traditional January date for this year’s festival, held to mark Elvis’s birthday, also had to be postponed to this week due to coronavirus concerns during the planning stages.

Like Elvis’ lyrics, it left organizers feeling a bit “shocked” when the new dates clashed with the popular and also postponed Tamworth Country Music Festival, but strong ticket sales ahead of that have eased concerns.

Two women in Elvis dresses.
Cheryl Luvara and Michelle Sjaardema have waited two years to put on their custom-made gown.(ABC News: Hugh Hogan)

More than 200 events

The five-day rock ‘n’ roll bonanza features more than 200 events including look-alike competitions, tribute acts, classic car parades and even an Elvis-themed gospel service on Sunday mornings.

Darren Armstrong traveled from Sydney to defend his title of most lookalike at the Parkes festival for the fourth year running and tried his hand at the tribute act competition.

The man dressed as Elvis
Local Parkes resident and former tribute artist Brad Cartwright welcomed the return of the festival.(ABC News: Hugh Hogan)

Honors artist Andy B traveled all the way from Brisbane and said it was great to be back in Parkes.

“The atmosphere around the city is absolutely stunning … everywhere you look, there’s just smiles everywhere,” he said.

Driving Speedway theme

This year’s theme is film, Speedway — one of many films starring Elvis Presley himself — with lots of Cadillacs and muscle cars driving through town in the spirit of the theme.

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Elvis memorabilia created from Graceland to Bendigo(ABC Central Victoria: Fiona Parker)

Organizer Tiffany Steele said the city was thrilled to have the country’s inaugural Elvis festival back in Parkes.

The festival brings more than $13 million to the local community and attracts people from all over Australia and the world.

This year’s marquee event is American Taylor Rodriguez, who was named the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist in Memphis for 2019.

Elvis pointed
Wayne Purtell arrives from Dayleford Victoria to celebrate all things Elvis.(ABC News: Hugh Hogan)
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