Hamilton teen earns trip to Memphis
Richard Wolfe performs Clambake, after he was chosen the grand champion of the Collingwood Elvis Festival, Sunday, July 28, 2013. The Hamilton resident will represent Collingwood at the Ultimate Elvis competition in Memphis in two weeks. Morgan Ian Adams/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin
This story has been corrected from an earlier version. Pro concert division winner Jesse Aron was crowned grand champion of the Collingwood Elvis Festival. The Enterprise-Bulletin apologizes for any confusion caused.
COLLINGWOOD — Richard Wolfe tapped into his inner Hound Dog, and delivered a performance worthy of the King.
With pro concert division winner Jesse Aron already qualified from a previous event for the Ultimate Elvis championship in Memphis in two weeks time, the hopes of an Ultimate Elvis coming from the Collingwood Elvis Festival will fall to a 19-year-old Hamiltonian who won over the crowd and, more importantly, the judges, to score the second-highest number of points.
Aron, with the most points, however, earns the title of the local festival's grand champion.
But the news he was headed to Memphis — with a $3,000 cheque in hand to cover his expenses — came as a huge jolt to non-pro early years winner Richard Wolfe, the first non-pro to compete for the title of Ultimate Elvis.
Wolfe actually tied second place pro concert years competitor Bruno Nesci in total points, but earned the trip by scoring the most vocal points.
“I’ve worked so hard... I’m just shocked. This is phenomenal,” said the young man, who’s only in his second year as a tribute artist, as he struggled to maintain his composure. “I’m shocked — words can’t describe it.”
Wolfe was competing in the non-professional early years category; last year, he was third in the division.
“This is my first year to actually win something,” said Wolfe, who was hugged by a steady stream of his fellow tribute artists after his victory. “I was just happy to win my own division.”
Wolfe performed Don’t Be Cruel and Peace in the Valley, wearing a costume similar to the suit Elvis wore on the Louisiana Hayride, Presley’s television debut.
“I studied Elvis for two weeks before (the festival)... I just did what Elvis did,” said Wolfe.
His grandparents got him hooked on Elvis’ music, but his reverence of the King goes beyond what Presley did on stage.
“It’s not just the way he performed, it was also what he did backstage,” said Wolfe. “It was the charity, giving away cars, helping (community) foundations.
“That’s what really captured my eye.”
Aron finally captured his division, after five years of coming in the top three, while Kevin Bezaire was the non-professional concert year winner.
Brycen Katolinsky, who has earned a couple of first-place wins as in the senior youth category over the years, won the professional early years category.
In the youth division, Connor Russo took home the junior title for the third year in a row, while Drake Milligan was the senior winner.
Norm Ackland Jr., who was second in the non-professional early years division, won the Inspirational Gospel competition earlier in the day.
This was the 19th year for the event. More than 100 tribute artists attended.
Youth junior: Connor Russo; Jax Ackland; Aaron Henry
Youth senior: Drake Milligan; Mason Cigan; Zach Peddie
Non-pro early years: Richard Wolfe; Norm Ackland Jr.; Pete Doiron
Non-pro concert years: Kevin Bezaire; T.J. Jackson; San Calleri
Pro early years: Brycen Katolinsky; Bruce Andrew Stewart; Brent Morrey
Pro concert years: Jesse Aron; Bruno Nesci; Corney Rempel