"Isn't it fantastic to see politicians throw away their inhibitions!"
Parkes Shire Mayor, Cr Ken Keith OAM, resplendent in typical Elvis Presley garb, was in a jovial mood on Monday as ticketing for the 2022 Elvis Festival, held in the NSW Central West town of Parkes, was launched.
He was surrounded by Sam Farraway, Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole, who were looking equally as resplendent and all full of energy thanks to the fact our beloved festival is finally on the horizon.
It may not be at its usual January time thanks to COVID, but it is set to return on April 20 - 24 next year, jam-packed with a program of rockin' n' rollin' and a Speedway theme.
The king-sized program is filled with more than 200 Elvis and speedway inspired events.
These will include some much-loved festival favourites:
- Northparkes Mines street parade
- Renewal of vows ceremony
- Goodsell Machinery Miss Priscilla dinner
- Free Cooke Park main stage entertainment
- Elvis gospel service
The festival will also host some new events, including a Speedway Exhibit of rare and classic race cars, meet-and-greet racing stars and virtual reality simulators.
A Pin-Up Pageant will be hosted over three days of the Festival for rockabilly and vintage fashion lovers.
For the theatrically inclined, Sons of Sun is a wild rock and roll play about Sun Records, Memphis, featuring songs from Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison.
For the first time, fans will enjoy four days of free entertainment from the impressive new performance stage at Cooke Park.
Starting as a small get together between like-minded Elvis fans in 1993, the Parkes Elvis Festival has grown into an internationally renowned phenomenon.
It is recognised as one of the top events in Australia, attracting 24,000 fans and generating around $15 million for the Parkes economy.
The Speedway theme is dedicated to Elvis' 1968 musical hit about a race car driver with a heart of gold.
Festival attendees are encouraged to dress in theme - so think go-go dancing girls, overalls, racing suits and red, white and blue.
Top Australian tribute artist Mark Anthony will also stage a one-off special Speedway Show to celebrate the Festival theme.
Festival director Cathy Treasure is counting down the days until next April.
"The Festival is so excited to return next year, bigger and better than ever with a huge program of activities," she said.
"Although we can't celebrate on Elvis' birthday like we normally do, we're planning a big party regardless and look forward to sharing this iconic festival experience with locals and visitors coming to Parkes."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Deputy Premier, and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole, said on Monday next year's festival will be massive not just for Parkes, but the entire region.
"What an enjoyable event this will be, and not just for the people of Parkes but across NSW and Australia," he said.
"COVID, droughts, bushfires, floods - people need some enjoyment and they've missed out on that for a number of years, so we're saying now get out here to Parkes and enjoy the Elvis festival.
"These events are so important...they grow and drive the local economy.
"The Parkes Elvis Festival is considered one of Australia's most iconic events and with a global media reach of more than 400 million people, this all helps to put a big spotlight on the region and bring welcome tourism dollars to local businesses," said Mr Toole.
Tickets to all events are on sale now, including the Feature Concert Series which will see the USA's 2019 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Champion, Taylor Rodriguez, make his Australian debut with four shows performed across the Festival, backed by the dynamic nine-piece TIC band.
Ms Treasure said as soon as the lines opened on Monday for ticketing, everyone wanted a piece of it.
"We are so excited, the phones have been running hot since 9am this morning!"
Cr Keith echoed her excitement.
"The tickets on the Elvis Express sold out within 12 minutes...that's just amazing," he said.
"The reason it is so successful is because it is the friendliest festival in Australia."
Jeff Lewis host of the famous 'Memphis After-Party' at Graceland's Elvis Week will MC.
The Festival will welcome a host of other top American talent with links to Elvis and the Speedway movie, including a virtual Q&A appearance by Speedway child star Victoria Paige Meyerink,
Ms Treasure said there will be one extra-special guest who in fact knew Elvis, too and
"We will have a very special guest, Charles Stone, who was actually Elvis' tour producer in the 1970s, and he's coming to Parkes so fans can actually meet someone who knew and worked with Elvis," she said.
Australian music legend, and Platinum artist Brian Cadd will be also be inducted to the Wall of Fame during the festival.
The singer, songwriter, keyboard player and producer will be honoured as not only Australian music industry icon for over 50 years, but a continued force.
Adam Harvey, Australia's most decorated country artist, will also feature in the festival line-up for the Elvis Country Special, performing a tribute to Elvis' many country music hits.
The Festival isn't just about all things Elvis, Australia's colourful rockabilly and vintage communities are also celebrated.
There will be a host of workshops held where fans can discover vintage styling, revel in burlesque performance and even take a masterclass in drawing The King himself.
The preliminary round of the international Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest also returns in 2022, with leading Elvis tribute artists from Australia and abroad battling it out at Parkes Leagues Club.
Officially endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc, the winner will represent Parkes in the Semi Final round of the 2022 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis, USA, during Elvis Week in August.
The Honourable Michael McCormack MP wouldn't be entirely out of place in those contests, such is his penchant for belting out a Elvis tune with customised lyrics at Parkes press conferences.
"The Jewel of the Newell, that's what it's all about," he said on Monday before he burst into Viva Las Vegas.
"Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire.
"I got a whole lot of funding that I'm willing to give so I'm gonna make Parkes go higher...thank you, thank you very much," sung our ever-passionate local member.
Tickets to all Parkes Elvis Festival shows, across the many venues, will be available to purchase online, making booking your entire five-day Elvis extravaganza a breeze.
Accommodation options are available, including camping and caravanning, in Parkes and surrounding towns.
For all programming, accommodation and ticketing information, visit www.parkeselvisfestival.com.au.
It's Always On Our Mind, so bring on April 2022!