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NOTES FROM PETER PHILLIPS, THE ORGANISER

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 activity centre.

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 the Town.

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 get.’

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.

Have fun!

PETER PHILLIPS, Festival Organiser   



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