Cr Ken McGrath prefers Parkes Elvis Festival to be cancelled over date change

LONG-SERVING: Cr Ken McGrath has been a volunteer at the Parkes Elvis Festival for as long as it's been running and believes the 2021 event should be cancelled. Photo: Christine Little
LONG-SERVING: Cr Ken McGrath has been a volunteer at the Parkes Elvis Festival for as long as it's been running and believes the 2021 event should be cancelled. Photo: Christine Little

For the first time in 29 years, the Parkes Elvis Festival will not be held in January.

It's the result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that hit Australia hard earlier this year and now it's beginning to impact decisions for events taking place in early 2021.

Festival organisers have been forced to move the event to a new tentative date in March.

But Parkes councillor Ken McGrath believes the festival should be left in January and cancelled for 2021, when the news reached the Council Chambers during its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Cr McGrath has been a volunteer at the festival for as long as it's been running.

He knows the enormous amount of work involved and that the festival's success relies on fans and artists travelling from around the country and the world to attend.

"We've always celebrated [the festival] on Elvis' birthday and really I would like to see that not changed. I think we've got to stick to that," he said.

"If we can't hold the Elvis Festival this year, well then we'll cancel it but we'll have it in 2022.

"They did it to the Royal Easter Show so you can't have a Royal Easter Show in February or July, it's not Easter, so we've got to stick to what we've done best.

"There's heaps and heaps of people who rely on keeping that weekend free because it's straight after Christmas, people are still on holidays.

"They move from here to the Tamworth Festival and if we change that to a [different] date we're going to lose a whole interest in the festival.

"...If you were to ask the other ERI members (Elvis Revival Inc), they would all agree with me and say the same thing."

There were two members from the ERI - founder Anne Steel and Lorraine Job - present at the Elvis Festival meeting and part of the decision making.

Mayor Ken Keith OAM said the decision to postpone the festival was to give organisers a bit more breathing space.

It would also allow organisers to see how the festival would go at a cooler time of the year.

"One of the biggest complaints we have at the Elvis Festival is that it's too hot," Cr Keith said.

"It would be interesting to see whether you actually get a bigger or smaller attendance at a March event than you do in the heat of January.

"The Elvis Festival has such a reputation as a major experience... that it would be worth trying a March event if conditions allowed that to happen."

When the announcement was released on social media on Wednesday, a number of Parkes Champion Post readers commented on how much cooler it will be for attendees.

Cr Alan Ward, agreeing with Cr McGrath, said it would be a shame to put such as successful festival at risk by changing it and feared it would do damage to the event.

Cr Keith said if conditions are suitable the plan is to postpone it to March 10-14 and if not, to cancel it until 2022.

"That seems a long way away but the foremost of the committee's consideration is the health of our community and the last thing we want to do is introduce COVID-19, not only into the Parkes community but because it's such a big regional event with people staying all around the region, it has the potential to introduce COVID to the whole region," he said.

"We want to be sure the curve has been totally flattened and there's no community transmission occurring in NSW at least by the time.

"We don't know what will happen with the borders but it does give us another six weeks to make that decision and we'll have a much better idea at the end of September whether it would be possible or not."

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