Parkes Elvis Festival has record-breaking crowd of 27,000

BIGGER AND BETTER: The 27th Parkes Elvis Festival saw a record-breaking 27,000 festival fans congregate in town for five action-packed days of live music, special events and more. Photo: Christine Little
BIGGER AND BETTER: The 27th Parkes Elvis Festival saw a record-breaking 27,000 festival fans congregate in town for five action-packed days of live music, special events and more. Photo: Christine Little

As Parkes Elvis Festival director Cathy Treasure and her team put up their feet following another very successful event in 2019, there’s one thing we can all be sure of.

Ms Treasure promised a bigger and better festival at the event’s launch last September and if ticket sales and the crowds that packed Cooke Park are anything to go by, she and the team have certainly delivered.

The 27th Parkes Elvis Festival saw a record-breaking 27,000 festival fans congregate in Parkes for five action-packed days of live music, special events, talks and more, all in celebration of The King himself.

From to Sydney to Scone, to Scotland and South Africa, fans travelled from around Australia and the world to rock around the clock and enjoy non-stop Elvis Presley entertainment and Elvis-themed events.

And Ms Treasure couldn’t be happier.

“We’re absolutely knackered [but] we’re so happy,” she laughed.

The larger crowds were a big difference this year, with Ms Treasure noticing people were arriving earlier for the festival.

In the past few years, organisers have hosted a party in Cooke Park for the King on his birthday on January 8, this year taking place on Tuesday – the day before the festival officially began – and attracting a bigger than normal crowd.

“Our Wednesday show, which this year was the All Shook Up Special, we usually have 200 people. This year we had 500,” Ms Treasure said.

“That shows people are coming to the festival earlier.

“The Miss Priscilla dinner [on Thursday night] sold out...[And] our international visitors have definitely increased.

“The festival was covered on Saudi Arabia, Baghdad, India and South African TV, we had our Japanese visitors return, and we had UK visitors who saw the festival on TV last year and decided to attend this year.

“That’s what we want.”

People came out in droves for the Northparkes Mines Street Parade on Saturday, which saw more than 11,000 people line the streets to enjoy more than 182 Elvis-themed floats, vintage cars, motorcycles, walking groups and marching bands – an increase on previous years. 

Ms Treasure also said the workshops, a new feature to the 2019 program, were well attended and highly praised.

“We were told people were looking for more participation in the festival so we introduced the workshops this year,” she said.

“That’s something we’re looking to grow over the years.

“The ukulele workshop [was a standout] because it was something different.

“The Q&A with Elvis tribute artists is relatively new and that was brilliant – the numbers were up...and that has room to grow.

“And the kids talent workshop with Greg Page sold out.”

The free entertainment in the park is always a highlight for Ms Treasure, as it is for most, and staff work every year to utilise the space as best they can for a better festival experience for visitors.

Over the last two years the market stalls have been pushed further to the back of the park, away from the main stage, to take advantage of the park’s natural shade for those listening to the entertainment.

“We fine-tuned that this year and it worked, we were more strategic,” Ms Treasure said.

“We’re just really happy with everything overall.”

“Parkes Elvis Festival is a truly global experience.

“I'd like to thank our hardworking volunteers and Parkes Shire Council staff for helping make this festival a unique and wonderful celebration of The King.”

The 2020 theme was revealed during the festival, which in its 28th year will celebrate Elvis’1966 comedy film ‘Frankie & Johnny’.

But in a first for the event, so too was revealed next year’s feature artist – being Dean Z from the US.

“He’s quite incredible,” Ms Treasure said.

“He was here once before when the festival was smaller, since then his career has taken off a bit.”

Also among the major highlights was the hundreds of Elvis fanatics, decked out in bejeweled jumpsuits and poodle skirts, who shimmied their way to Sydney’s Central Station on Thursday to board The Elvis Express and Blue Suede Express trains.

The winner of the fourth preliminary round of the international 2018 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest staged at the Parkes Leagues Club was Brody Finlay of Townsville, who became the youngest person to win the competition at just 22 years of age.