Dozens of Elvis Presley impersonators thronged Sydney Central Station on Wednesday morning as the tiny rural New South Wales town prepares for a five-day festival dedicated to the king of rock and roll.
Before the audience traveled to the 30th annual Elvis Festival in Parks, the Elvises from Japan performed favorite hits such as “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog”. Hawaiian leis, aquamarines and white flared suits, as well as perfectly gelled black wigs, were common in the crowd.
Uncle and nephew Damien and Luke Barden, dressed in gold sequined blazers, a matching Hawaiian print set, aviator sunglasses and thongs, headed off to their fifth edition of the festival. The five-day event runs Wednesday through Sunday, and this year’s theme, “Blue Hawaii,” is inspired by Presley’s musical comedy of the same name.
“It’s a city of 8,000 that has grown to over 20,000, and every single one of them is an Elvis. It’s been a great week and it really couldn’t get any better,” Damien said.
While the couple remained silent when asked about their most memorable experience from their five Elvis festivals at the Park – “we know, but unfortunately we can’t share it,” Luke stated – they said the weekend was filled with singing and “have a good time”.
“You go to pubs and clubs, and there are only imitators of Elvis. I think some of the worst are the best. They just get up and try,” he added.
Friends Jean, Megan and Jane said they were thrilled to “meet the new Elvises” who are coming to the rural town from all over the world.
Jean and Meghan traveled to Sydney from Geelong, Victoria and were preparing to make the 365km train journey to Parks.
A dedicated service, NSW Trainlink, offers a return flight from Sydney to Parks with carriages decked out with Elvis paraphernalia. Tickets are $299, which also includes a ticket to the festival finale, appetizers, and a welcome pack.
Sharing their love for Elvis’ music, Meghan credited Presley’s enduring popularity to his iconic songs and influence on a variety of genres from country, pop and, of course, rock and roll.
“Music is also very versatile. It’s not just rock and roll. It’s gospel, it’s country, a little bit of everything.”
Ahead of the 8:33 am Elvis Express departure, Regional Transport and Roads Minister Sam Farraway confirmed that the NSW government will keep trains running until at least 2025.
This event is estimated to bring in $15 million to the Central West region, with all accommodation fully booked in Parks and surrounding cities.
“This is important not only for Elvis fans, it is important for the central-western part of New South Wales. It’s important for Parks, it’s important for Forbes, it’s important for a region that has experienced significant flooding in recent weeks,” Mr. Farraway said.
Mr Farraway was joined by Parkesshire County Council Mayor Ken Keith, who was dressed appropriately in pastel blue overalls.
Chris Keith said the festival was “sorely needed” after three years of drought, two years of Covid and recent flooding.
“This is so important for the regional economy (and) even more important for the mental health of our city,” he said.
“It gives people the opportunity to relax and return to normal life.”
#Elvis #Presley #fans #descend #Sydney #Central #Station #ahead #30th #annual #Elvis #Festival #Park