As early as 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, Penticton’s Okanagan Lake Park was filled with Elvis Presley enthusiasts eager to watch some of the world’s best tribute performers take the stage.
Canada’s largest and longest-running Elvis Tribute Festival officially returned to the Peach City on Friday after a two-year hiatus and event organizers are already calling this year’s edition a huge success.
“In terms of how many people showed up, Friday was our best opening day ever,” said Dave Martin, the festival’s president.
Performers from as close as Vancouver and Seattle to as far as Amsterdam and London were among those to take the stage on Saturday morning.
“I’ve never been to Canada before, until today,” said Casper Slee, an Elvis tribute performer from the Netherlands. “Elvis is massive in Europe, so it’s just so great to be here and represent.”
International representation on stage is particularly strong this year, with the majority of worldwide performers hailing from the U.K., according to the festival’s vice president Mike Schell.
“I think after being away for a couple of years, everyone’s just so excited to have this back,” Schell said. “I’ve been part of this festival for 17 years and the crowds yesterday were among the best ever. Even today, it’s only 10 a.m. and the park is filled.”
Performers — aged from 20 to 65 — will appear at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday night, before returning to Okanagan Lake Park on Sunday morning.
The SOEC will host the festival’s finals on Sunday night, where one performer will be crowned the champion and take home $2,500. Along with the cash, the winner will be sent to Memphis, Tenn. to perform at the “Ultimate Elvis Finals.”
“Today, it’s about giving the people a great show,” Slee said. “That’s how Elvis did it every single time and there’s no better place to do it than here…beautiful lake and beautiful mountains.”