PARADE says it every year, but it’s worth saying again: the town of Parkes has achieved the impossible in making its Elvis Festival such an incredible success.
Consider the circumstances: a small place in western NSW decides to hold an annual homage to a singing superstar who was born and lived on the other side of the world.
Adding to the degree of difficulty, that same town decides to hold the festival – in which people are encouraged to dress up in heavy costumes – right smack bang in the middle of the western summer, when most sensible people retreat somewhere with air-conditioning and refuse to come out.
It shouldn’t have worked. It really shouldn’t. But it does – and, from what Parade hears, it seems to get bigger every year.
Parade reckons the Parkes Elvis Festival – its origins, its history, its secrets to success – should be compulsory reading for any person hoping to make a career in regional tourism.
It’s about as crazy as trying to hold a festival in the Bathurst CBD in the middle of an atrocious Central Tablelands winter.
Wait a sec …
ALSO MAKING NEWS IN BATHURST:
The heat would be on for months
PARADE spent his fair share of summers in the state’s west and can report that they were nothing if not memorable.
They were months when you could work up a sweat walking from the front door to the car. When it might be a balmy 37 or 38 degrees at midday.
When the weekend cricketers – and, yes, they would keep playing, because they bred them tough in those days – would drink water from buckets, not bottles, when they trudged from the field.
And when you could hear an almost audible sigh go up around town as dusk came and the blazing sun slowly, slowly started to set and put the houses in shadow.
The best thing you could do during those months was to find good air-conditioning and make permanent camp next to it.
Parade remembers the pubs and clubs, not coincidentally, were always very popular at that time of year.