Parkes Services Club has gyrated its way through another fan-loving Elvis Festival, as tens of thousands of attendees rocked and rolled into town.
The now internationally famous celebration of the King of rock n’ roll began in 1993, and continues to grow every year.
Held on the second weekend in January, from the prior Wednesday until Sunday afternoon, the 2024 edition attracted nearly 20,000 people from around Australia and even overseas to the western NSW town, with resident population of nearly 11,000.
As part of Parkes’ efforts to optimise the opportunity, the Elvis Express leaves Sydney’s Central Station on Thursday morning, arriving after lunch, and there is a specific Elvis flight through regional airline REX that entices more visitors along.
One of the highlights of the Festival is the Saturday morning street parade, where historic, often open-top cars reminiscent of Elvis’ era transport and accompany a sea of Elvis-attired entertainers through the town centre.
Parkes Services Club is one of the key venues hosting performances in the annual Festival.
Rocking a ‘Jailhouse’ theme this year, it provided free entertainment in the downstairs ‘Cellblock’ lounge area, and ticketed events in the upstairs Starlight Auditorium.
There were also Elvis Bingo sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that GM Mike Phillips says brought “record numbers” to the venue. Staff and even directors dressed up in theme for the Festival period.
When it was all done the club posted a “huge thankyou to each and every entertainer we were lucky enough to have perform at our venue” – as well as one to the hard-working staff.
“You all ROCK!”
After mopping up on Monday, the club closed at 4pm Tuesday “to spoil our fantastic staff” after the efforts of the previous week.
Seeing the successes in Parkes, other regional towns have begun comparable marketing initiatives, such as the Dolly Parton Festival in Narromine, around 110km from Parkes, and Broken Hill’s colourful Broken Heel Festival.
Parkes Services is now beginning a recently heralded major renovation, in preparation for an even bigger role in the 2025 Festival.
Having worked every Parkes Elvis spectacular except one, Phillips attests to the immense benefits it has ushered into the community.
“They say it brings $15 million in revenue, and you can’t get accommodation here around Festival time,” he says. “We’re bursting at the seams.”