The Parkes Elvis Festival may still be four months away but that hasn’t stopped TV personality Mike Whitney and the Sydney Weekender crew from making a trip to Parkes to talk all things about the King.
The Channel Seven’s popular travel show was filming in town on Monday and Tuesday, thanks to a state government initiative to promote top tourism destinations in regional NSW.
Secured by the government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, Sydney Weekender was filming content to promote the Parkes Elvis Festival.
Mike and his team attended the official launch of the 2018 festival at Hotel Gracelands on Monday.
From there, Mike met up with 2017 Miss Priscilla Jackie Batt in Cooke Park to talk about the iconic Miss Priscilla competition.
Of course no visit to Parkes would be complete without dressing up as Elvis and taking a ride in a red Cadillac around town.
“We did a few laps around...you’d expect people to be pulling faces at you but no we had people waving and calling out ‘hey Elvis’,” Mike said.
“It was great.”
Mike was given a tour of The King's Castle Elvis Exhibit at the The Henry Parkes Centre by an Elvis impersonator and Parkes’ mayor Ken Keith.
He also spoke with festival director Cathy Treasure, who explained to him how Cooke Park transforms into a festival hub every January and all the action that takes place there.
“We shot this festival 10 or 12 years ago and it was on it’s way then,” Mike said.
“Now, it’s unbelievable...It’s a phenomenal thing to a – come up with the idea, b – to execute it and c – down the track in 25 years’ time the amount of events that are part of the festival.”
“It opened my eyes how much Parkes has embraced it...they should be patted on the back.”
On Tuesday, the crew spent their morning filming at the Railway Hotel, in the Hart Bar, where Mike was treated to the hotel’s Elvis Burger – peanut coated fried chicken, fried pickle, fried banana, bacon, lettuce, cheese and aioli with a peanut sauce, and grilled banana and peanut sauce on the side.
Their filming finished with scenes of Mike at the Dish.
An Elvis fan himself, Mike grew up listening to the King but has never been able to attend the Parkes Elvis Festival yet.
“I’d love to, I’ll eventually get there one day,” he said.
In order to air the episode prior to next year’s festival, the Sydney Weekender crew needed all hands on deck to stage certain scenes, including the assistance from local Elvii and rockabilly girls.
“We love coming out to anywhere in the bush,” Mike said.
The rest of the week was spent filming the rest of the program and editing it.
It’s expected the Sydney Weekender, featuring the Parkes Elvis Festival, will air on November 5.
Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said the NSW Government likes to ensure their regions are highlighted on popular television programs such as Sydney Weekender to help boost overnight visitation.
“The Sydney Weekender episode featuring the Parkes Elvis Festival was proudly secured by the NSW Government and I encourage Elvis fans to tune in on Sunday, November 5 for some great travel planning inspiration,” he said.
“The Parkes Elvis Festival is a major drawcard on the NSW Events Calendar and next year’s event will be one not to miss.”
Mike Whitney is now in his 23rd year hosting the Sydney Weekender, which sees him working 46 weeks of the year.