Elvis Festival
Outback Style Parkes NSW Australia

10 to 14 January + or - a day depending on the year.

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Parkes in Australia first became famous when its Radio Telescope was used as the station that frist received the first video from the July 1969 moon landings and relayed them to NASA control in the U.S. The 1990's classic Australian film, 'The Dish' was made based on this piece of history.

Now Parkes graces the world stage with yet another first..

Presenting itself as the ‘Elvis Capital’ of Australia, Parkes keeps the local rural community in business by drawing tourists into town with its annual Elvis Festival.

In the upcoming March edition of Geographical Research, published by Blackwell Publishing, a paper looks at the issue of rural festivals on inland townships and how they help the survival of those rural communities.

The small township 350km west of Sydney was used as a case-study to see how, and if, the Annual Elvis Revival Festival helps Parkes.  Dr Chris Gibson from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the lead author of the paper, looks at how a rural community was able to establish a successful tourism product and garner it national publicity.

Dr Gibson also, calculates the significance of the popular festival to a small town with little prospects and remarks, “Rural festivals can make an important contribution to the struggling economies of inland towns, and are increasingly part of their shift from traditional agricultural bases towards tourism, lifestyle and service industries.”

The Parkes annual festival, based around the birthday of The King, brings over $1 million in direct income to the sleepy town – famous also for the nationally renowned satellite dish portrayed in The Dish.

The annual festival is also a reflection on how even small towns can artificially create a new image for itself and successfully turn around a struggling township.  Parkes has created an association with a performer who never visited Parkes, or even Australia during his career, but is now recognised as Australia’s ‘Elvis Capital’.

“This is a ‘good news story’ from a region otherwise plagued by drought, facing on-going problems of an ageing community, declining population and poor prospects for agricultural growth. The Festival has grown in size since its initial conception in the 1990s – with notable impact – and the town now partly trades on its association with Elvis, constituting an “invented” tradition and place identity.”

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