Elvis not going anywhere

If there are signs of Elvis Presley’s popularity waning in some places, the King of Rock n Roll is still royalty in the Okanagan, says organizers of the Penticton Elvis Festival.

“The Penticton Elvis Festival is alive and well,” said Dave Martin, one of the organizers of the June event.

“The last couple of years have actually been our biggest,” said Martin, a member of the Penticton Elvis Society.

That isn’t the case for the Collingwood Elvis Festival in Ontario. The town’s tribute to Elvis has seen declining attendance over recent years. That’s why city council voted unanimously to make this year’s show its last.   

That’s not a worry for the 18th annual Penticton Elvis Festival running June 27 to 30, said Martin.

“It’s a shame about the Collingwood festival but here we haven’t seen a decline in interest. Last year, we had 4,000 people come out to the finals on the Sunday,” he said.

“Our society runs the event, not the city as was the case in Collingwood. We have a 14-person board and 70-plus volunteers who make our festival what it is. We have Elvis tribute artists coming from around the world and many fans who make our festival their annual vacation spot. It’s good for the town. It fills the hotels.”

However, there have been some hiccups in this year’s planning.

“This year, the city moved us to Gyro Park because they had double-booked us with Rib Fest,” said Martin. “The move does mean we can fit fewer fans, but the city compensated us for that.”

Also, this year they won’t be tied to the car show.

But the Penticton Elvis Society is excited about the calibre of Elvis’s coming to perform, and their VIP line-up which includes Elvis’ bodyguard Sam Thompson who will be sharing some funny stories. One of the headlining Elvis tribute artists this year is Adam Fitzpatrick, a crowd favourite. High calibre Elvis tribute artists bring their own fan base with them, said Martin.

“He actually started here seven years ago,” he said. He went on to win several competitions and compete in Memphis.

There are even some young Elvises that have blown judges away, he said.

“Riley Jenkins is a 16-year-old from Memphis who looks like and sings just like young Elvis,” Martin said. “We have a few teenagers who are amazing.”

Elvis tribute artists come from around the globe, including the UK, Spain and various parts of the U.S.

The festival has a charity component to it as well. Proceeds from the Sunday morning gospel show, pancake breakfast and teddy bear toss will go to the Penticton Hospice Society.

Tickets for the Penticton Elvis Festival are on sale now. Go to http://www.pentictonelvisfestival.ca/

By Monique Tamminga

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