Connect to share and comment

Elvis has Aussies all shook up

Among those vying to be "King" of an Australian country town were an Aboriginal Elvis, a "Crap" Elvis and the "World's Worst Elvis."

Hale, under his memorable moniker, has even produced a CD of Elvis covers with his own stylistic twist. Favourites at the festival included "Let me be your Terrorist" and "Stalkin’ You" (parodies on the Elvis hits "Let me be your Teddy Bear" and "Stuck on You" respectively).

For the Saturday morning street parade, a favorite of the week, Main Street was gleaming with Rhinestone-studded Nudi Cohn knock-offs and chrome coloured aviators. A seemingly endless procession of Chevrolets, Cadillac’s and Lincolns guzzled petrol in rumbling baritones.

Mayor of Parkes Shire, Ken Keith, recalls the days when only a handful of council vehicles took part in the parade and residents shied away from the event. Now, he says, locals are getting into the spirit.

“It’s really starting to bring the community together,” the 57-year-old councilor said, even confessing to his own trepidations about the town’s adopted royalty. “I have to admit I was a bit more of a Beatles fan in my youth … but I’m starting to become [an Elvis fan].”

The runaway popularity of their brainchild has demanded quick thinking on part of the local council. Tent and caravan space has spilled onto the local showground while savvy townsfolk are leasing out their homes to eager weekenders. To keep the festival contained within the confines of Parkes, the local administration concedes it must evolve or perish.

Rumors are spreading, locals say, that neighbouring councils with more accommodating amenities are conspiring for a coup d’etat on festivities.

“If [visitors] can’t get into an air-conditioned pub and have a cold beer and something to eat then that becomes an issue,” Keith said.

For the moment, however, it seems like the locals have got a firm hold of the throne.

“It’s done wonders to the town in terms of tourism,” said Elvis Lennox, a co-founder of the festival who legally changed his name in 1997.

“It’s something for a little place like Parkes to put us on the map.