Ask Peak Hill woman Erin O’Leary – people will do whatever they can to promote their little hometowns.
Even if it means dying your hair black, sitting at the hairdressers for six and a half hours and imitating the woman once married to the King of rock and roll.
At this year’s Parkes Elvis Festival, Erin was named the 2019 Miss Priscilla during the annual Goodsell Machinery Miss Priscilla Dinner on Thursday evening.
And she was thrilled the experience gave her village, 48km north of Parkes, a little “plug”.
It’s the first year the 21-year-old – who also happens to be Peak Hill’s Miss Showgirl for 2018 – entered the competition, with the help of Parkes hairdresser Adele Hawke and Erin’s best friend and make up artist from Blush and Glow in Parkes Brittani Carroll.
And this year was destined to be Erin’s moment in the spotlight.
“When I was 16, Adele told me I should enter into the Miss Priscilla competition because I had the hair for it, but I was too young,” Erin said.
“Every year I considered it, then mum suggested I enter this year.
“And because I’m leaving in the next couple of months to move to Canberra to finish my studies [in early childhood and primary education at ACU], this was the year to do it.”
Erin said she knew a lot of what was involved in the competition and wasn’t phased by what was asked of her.
She started getting ready for the dinner at 11am on Thursday, taking until 5.30pm when she needed to be at the Parkes Services Club.
“I was really excited, I’m a member of the Parkes M&D and I love any opportunity to dress up,” Erin said.
“It’s the thrill of it that’s so exciting.
“I love being pampered and I have a high pain tolerance when it comes to teasing hair,” she laughed.
It was a proud moment for Erin when they announced her name, especially with her mother Louise O’Leary and nan Una Colley in the audience.
Erin also praised Brittani for her work, saying she did an amazing job.
“One judge came up to me and said one of the main things that helped me was that my makeup was spot-on,” she said.
Since being crowed Miss Priscilla, Erin had some busy days ahead her, including a photo shoot at the Dish with headline act Ted Torres Martin, visiting Parkes aged care facilities, participating in the annual street parade and several other festival events.
It was a side of the festival she’d never seen before but described it as phenomenal.
“And the photos!” She said.
“You just get stopped...I should of had a clicker to count how many photos I posed for.
“And so many Elvii were grabbing my hand and taking me for dance or twirl, but what do you do? You can’t say no.”
Erin said a highlight of the experience is being able to promote the Elvis Festival and Parkes.
“I want people to know they can still come here, not just for the Elvis Festival and that there are other things to see and do here, it’s such a great little town,” she said.
“Being from Peak Hill, it’s also a little plug for my hometown.”