The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, September 16, 2019


All shook up: How Elvis keeps Aussie outback town alive
This photo taken on January 10, 2019 shows Elvis fans leaving from Central Station in Sydney as they head to the Parkes Elvis Festival, some 300 kilometres (190 miles) west of Sydney in outback Australia. Once a year Parkes, a sleepy mining town in rural Australia, explodes into colour and song -- a veritable Graceland in the outback hosting a five-day extravaganza to celebrate 'the King'. PETER PARKS / AFP.

by Glenda Kwek


PARKES (AFP).- Once a year Parkes, a sleepy mining town in rural Australia, explodes into colour and song -- a veritable Graceland in the outback hosting a five-day extravaganza to celebrate 'the King'.

Die-hard fans don their polyester jumpsuits, thick black wigs and gold-coloured necklaces, hopping on the "Elvis Express" and "Blue Suede Express" trains to the event, now billed as the southern hemisphere's biggest tribute to the superstar.

The town's transformation extends beyond the superficial -- organisers estimate this year's Parkes Elvis Festival generated Aus$13 million (US$9.3 million) for the local economy as more than 27,000 people visited attending some 200 themed events.

"It's just crazy," said North Parkes Motel owner Andrew Porter of the frenzied growth in tourists.

"It's just gotten busier and busier over the years. It's helped the whole economy," he added.

Elvis, who died in 1977 aged 42, never travelled to Australia and the event, held to coincide with his January birthday, runs at the height of summer when temperatures top 40 degree Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

But neither fact deters the fans: What was a sleepy summer period has turned into full occupancy during the festival. Accommodation is fully booked years in advance, caravan parks fill up quickly and sporting fields are packed with tents.

"A lot of people do come here and they spend a hell of a lot of money. I know that for a fact," said Elvis Lennox, who changed his name from Neville Steven and has a huge collection of memorabilia that he exhibits in a private museum.

Return to splendour
Parkes, which is some 300 kilometres (190 miles) west of Sydney, began as a gold-mining town before becoming a flourishing farming community.

But by the 1990s, it and similar rural towns began to struggle as agricultural work declined.

Keen to draw in more customers during the quiet summer, when even townsfolk flee to the coast to get relief from the heat, restaurant owners Bob and Anne Steel organised a birthday party for their idol.

The first Elvis celebration in 1993 drew 200 participants, and the Steels had so much fun they made it an annual event.

At first there was little impact on the local economy, town mayor Ken Keith said. But as visitor numbers rose, so did revenues.

Parkes is now so full that towns up to two-and-a-half hours drive away have started to cash in by offering accommodation and transport for revellers who missed out on a place to stay near the festival.

"They get up at 5am, travel to Parkes to be here at 7am, leave here to go back after shows at midnight. It's a big toll but they do it. It's Elvis himself that's drawing them here," Lennox added.

The New South Wales state government is projecting an injection of Aus$43 million into the wider region surrounding Parkes this year due to the festival, a much-needed source of income amid a severe drought.

Elvis lives?
While locals still get work from the farming, mining and transport sectors throughout the year, the event has helped develop Parkes' service economy -- and its numbers.

The population has increased by four percent to around 12,000 in the past decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in sharp contrast to the declining or static trend in other regional and rural towns.

Parkes has become a model for how rural regions can re-invent themselves, said University of Wollongong human geography expert Chris Gibson.

Inspired by the success, other small towns have started their own events such as the ABBA Festival in nearby Trundle and the Bob Marley Festival in Kandos, said Gibson, who has compiled a database of some 2,800 festivals across the country.

The Elvis festival has a uniquely Australian flavour.

"We don't take ourselves too seriously," said Keith, decked out in a sky blue jumpsuit, aviator sunglasses and pompadour wig as he danced with jumpsuit-clad Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack ahead of the event's street parade.

This extends to the sporting field with another regular fixture -- a rugby game -- featuring teams of Elvis look-alikes all wearing copies of his trademark white jumpsuit.

"The festival's celebrating an artist who has never visited Australia, let alone Parkes, in the depth of the summer heat where it's really quite uncomfortable to wear polyester jumpsuits," explained Gibson.

"So that invites a sense of playfulness that's really part of why it works so well."

A growing number of young people are attending the event, but more than half of festival-goers are aged 55 or older.

"Some women have come out, tears in their eyes. And I said, 'What's the matter?', and they said, 'He's not dead, he's alive, you can see him in there!'," Lennox told AFP of visitors to his museum.

"I said 'Yes, I know, we try to keep him alive as much as possible. He'll never die while we're alive.'"


© Agence France-Presse






Today's News

January 24, 2019

Jonas Mekas, godfather of American experimental film, dies at 96

US university to cover Christopher Columbus murals

Gagosian opens an exhibition of over forty works on paper by Walter De Maria

Vancouver Art Gallery announces major gift toward new building and reveals final designs

Museum reveals time capsule from 1970 in major print series by Robert Rauschenberg

Over thirty sculptures by Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne on view at Kasmin

Zeit Contemporary Art opens the exhibition 'Minimal Means: Concrete Inventions in the US, Brazil and Spain'

Research reveals new species are evolving fastest in Antarctica

From space travel to augmented reality, Crystal Bridges looks for new ways to innovate

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opens exhibition of works by Polly Apfelbaum

Mexico celebrates as 'Roma' grabs 10 Oscar nominations

Exhibition at Fotohof offers an overview of Mark Steinmetz's work

Zimbabwean Afro-jazz legend 'Tuku' dies

Elephant presents a new collaboration between Anna Liber Lewis and Kieran Hebden

The Contemporary Austin presents an exhibition by artists Janine Antoni and Anna Halprin

Rare sledge from heroic Antarctic exploration offered at Bonhams

Exhibition takes a groundbreaking approach to net art history from 1985 to today

The Felicia Michalski Collection of Decorative Arts goes up for bid at Turner Auctions + Appraisals

The Wattis Institute opens solo exhibitions of works by Diamond Stingily and Rosha Yaghmai

All shook up: How Elvis keeps Aussie outback town alive

Safarkhan opens exhibition of works by Mohamed Abla

Gasworks presents Quantum Ghost, the first UK solo exhibition and a major commission by Libita Clayton

Pérez Art Museum Miami welcomes four new members to its Board of Trustees

Gray's Auctioneers sale features African sculptures, masks and jazz recordings

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful