‘Lip-curling and hip-swivelling are obligatory,’ travel guide Frommer’s advises potential attendees of the annual Parkes Elvis Festival in New South Wales, Australia. This year’s event took place earlier this month, and the 12,000 or so visitors that made it out-of which several hundred took a special ‘Elvis Express’ train to and from Sydney to Parkes-were treated to an Elvis and Pricilla look-a-like competition, ‘Elvis Idol’ show and street parade, amongst several other similarly themed events.
The five-day festival, which celebrates the late legend each year around the time of his birthday, was reportedly conjured up by a local couple nearly two decades ago, who were looking to liven up the then somewhat lacklustre farming and mining town of Parkes.
And their idea certainly hit a chord among the nation’s Elvis fans, and has also had a hand in boosting the town’s economy since. According to event organizers, this year’s festival alone brought in over $5 million Australian dollars and overall continues to make up about 10 percent of Parkes’ total yearly tourism revenue.
But numbers aside, there were reports of a great moment from indigenous dancer and attendee Gnarnayarrahe Inmurry Waitairie, who apparently stirred quite some enthusiasm when he got up on stage, clad in a red-version of the crooner’s signature attire, and performed. I think Waitairie, who calls himself ‘Black Elvis,’ best articulated the spirit of the gathering when he said, ‘Elvis can be anyone and call to anyone, because Elvis takes your heart away.’