So, here we go again.
It was always going to be a challenge to improve on last year’s event
but I think we’ve done it. Twenty-six venues and over eighty different
events! The Festival has also crept into a fourth day and extended
geographically to Bridgend. That’s why they say we’re the biggest
Elvis Festival in Europe. I will try and mark your card but, to be honest,
you are going to have to be in several different places at the same time.
The Festival really
starts when Nadine takes down the Brentwood sign and replaces it with
Heartbreak Hotel. If you are around on Thursday night pop in there and
meet the early arrivals. That’s if you are not in Bridgend when Jerry
Presley, Elvis’ cousin, is playing at The Litten Tree.
We’ve got a great
start to the Festival proper on Friday. Some of the local schools are
performing an Elvis concert at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, just off
the Motorway in Bridgend. In return, some of the Elvies will be visiting
the schools in the afternoon to say thank you. McArthurGlen have been
really good supporters of the Festival so please try and get along there
sometime over the weekend.
In Porthcawl it
all kicks off officially with a champagne reception at the Grand Pavilion.
As it gets dark, the Elvis themed fairground at Coney Beach will come to
life and the Heartbreak Hotel hosts an Elvis Speed dating evening before
the Best Festival Karaoke Competition. If you can get tickets, come along
to the Grand Pavilion to see winners of last year’s Elvies perform at a
Hall of Fame Show. By then, many of the other Tribute Artists in town and
performing at various venues well into the night.
If you are up early on
Saturday, get in a bit of shopping at McArthurGlen and watch the Harleys
and Classic Cars assemble. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, go and
enter the Elvis ‘It’s a Knockout’ Challenge at Adventures outdoor
At 11am the Festival
Village opens. A new addition for 2005, the Village is located at the
Arena area within the Fairground. Live entertainment all day on Saturday
and Sunday all for the price of this programme. At midday, if you fancy
your chances, get down there and enter The Best Festival Elvis Competition
– if you win you will be playing at the glittering Elvies Award Show
that night – instant fame!
The Elvis celebrities
attending the Festival will be at the Grand Pavilion on Saturday lunchtime
where a Chatshow is being staged. Come along and get autographs and have
your photo taken. One person who sadly will not be there this year
(although her book ‘Raised on Elvis’ will be) is Sandi Pichon. Sandi
lives in New Orleans and her house was virtually destroyed in the recent
hurricane. She is a great supporter of the Festival and we all send our
best wishes to her and Stanley. She promises to be back next year.
If you are out and
about on Saturday afternoon watch out for Claire and Marc who are actually
getting married Elvis Style – listen out at the festival Village to find
out where. By now, you should have come across one of the Elvisly-Yours
shops that have been set up in the Festival. Try and get to speak to Sid
Shaw – a real mine of information about Elvis. Also, please use
Porthcawl’s legendary Roadtrain to get up and down the Seafront. It’s
the traditional way to get around town and all proceeds this weekend will
to go to Heronsbridge, a local special needs school.
Saturday night sees
the focal event of the Festival – The Elvies. It’s what attracts some
of the World’s leading Tribute Artists to Porthcawl. But don’t worry
if you can’t get in, as there will be more than enough going on around
And finally to Sunday.
For many people, including me, the highlight of last year’s event was
the Elvis Gospel Service at Trinity Church. It’s free to get in but
because of demand you will need a ticket from the Festival Office, located
at the Grand Pavilion. We are also holding a second Gospel service at the
Festival Village around lunchtime. Meanwhile, at the Grand Pavilion, those
of you who saw their performance last year will probably be watching the
Kenfig Hill Male Voice Choir performing Elvis.
Now here’s something
different – horses dancing to Elvis. The Southerndown Quadrille team
will be performing on Coney Beach – check it out. That’s if you’re
not taking up the challenge of Porthcawl Rugby Club who have a team
waiting to play 15 Elvis Look-alikes. If you think you look like The King,
and fancy a game, get along to the BBQ speak to Faye.
The climax of the
Festival has to be the show at the Grand Pavilion on Sunday night. ‘The
King Live’ featuring Kraig Parker, the Royal Tribute Band and Elvis’
original Gospel group The Sweet Inspirations. Who would have believed a
show this size would ever be staged in Porthcawl? It’s been called, by
people who were lucky enough to see Elvis, as ‘the closest you will ever
I hope you agree that
we have managed to make the Festival even bigger and better than last
year. All that’s left is to thank two people in particular. Councillor
Phil Rixon, who had the vision last year, as Mayor, to make it happen and
Steve Maitland-Thomas, who works tirelessly to make it all work.