Elvis fans and tribute artists come to Collingwood for festival 0
Former 2004 Collingwood Elvis Festival champion Shon Carroll performs for the crowd in this file shot. QMI FILE PHOTO
Elvis lives on through the hundreds of people who emulate the cultural icon as tribute artists.
Collingwood is looking forward to hosting these artists – and their fans - for the 18th annual Elvis Festival from July 26 to 29.
“It speaks a lot to who Elvis was that these guys want to emulate him in some way,” said Rosemarie O'Brien, the festival general manager.
The festival is not only a way for tribute artists to pay homage to 'The King', but also a way for fans to get an Elvis experience.
“These people who come here feel they are getting as close an experience to seeing Elvis as they would get,” said O'Brien. “The guys always take time to speak to fans and take photographs.”
O'Brien says people keep coming back every year because the festival organizers keep things fresh.
“We always try to come up with a new idea, or add new events,” she said. “This year we're bringing in international attendants.”
The festival is bringing in champions from Brazil, Australia, England, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark to compete in the festival.
Visitors can also look forward meet and greets with VIPs – people who knew and were close with Elvis when he was alive. Elvis' best friend Jerry Schilling, his bodyguard Sam Thompson, his co-star in “Kissing Cousins” Cynthia Pepper, and his jeweller Lowell Hays will be this year's VIPs.
Other highlights for the festival will be ultimate tribute artist champions, including the 2012 Memphis champion Cody Ray Slaughter and former Memphis champions Bill Cherry and Justin Shandor.
Visitors can also look forward to hearing Doug Church, known as 'The Voice of Elvis', and Las Vegas sensation Donny Edwards.
The festival offers alternatives from Elvis, such as “The Roots of Elvis” which will feature music that influenced Elvis and that he had an influence on.
“We try to spin the genre,” said O'Brien.
O'Brien says the festival is the largest in the world and is the busiest weekend in Collingwood — bringing in jobs and money for the town.
“I think it plays a really great role in the sustainability of the economy in this area,” she said.
The festival is a way to bring in tourists and to celebrate Elvis.
“People appreciate the spirit of Elvis. He was a generous person,” said O'Brien. “He had a great enthusiasm with music. It stood the test of time.”
The festival begins Thursday evening with a meet and greet with the VIPs at 5:30 p.m. and will end with the Grand Finals at 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information on the Collingwood Elvis Festival visit www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com.