EIN talks to Tiffany Slack Smith, Coordinator, Parkes Elvis Festival

This week the 16 th Parkes Elvis Festival will be held in NSW, Australia .  From its humble beginnings in the early 1990s attracting only a few hundred people it has grown into one of Australia ’s largest and most popular annual events.  In 2007 more than 7,000 visitors nearly doubled the population of country town Parkes and an even geater number are expected in 2008.

EIN recently spoke with the Festival Coordinator, Tiffany Slack-Smith , about this year’s huge event which will held from 8 to 13 January 2007.


EIN: Tiffany, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.  We know how busy you must be with the start of the 2008 Parkes Elvis Festival only a few days away. Firstly, how did you become Festival Coordinator?

TSS: I am in the position temporarily.  We advertised for a Festival Coordinator several months ago but a suitable person couldn’t be found so I was asked to step into the breach.  As a Parkes resident I have grown up on Elvis since the first Festival 16 years ago.

EIN: The Festival is organized/overseen by the Parkes Elvis Festival Committee.  Who is on the committee?

TSS: The Festival was started by my parents Bob and Ann Steele.  When it started a Committee was formed and its membership is now more than 20.  It includes a range of business people, town councilors, fans and students.

EIN: This is the 16th Annual Parkes Elvis Festival and as usual there is a jam packed program.  What are some of the highlights?

TSS:  Each year our schedule of events just gets bigger and bigger.  This year Mark Andrew is again headlining four feature events at the Parkes Leagues Club and in a world first, the El Gamble show will be broadcast around the world as an audio and audio-visual broadcast.

We also have many other attractions including a numerous other ETA shows, our popular Elvis Bingo, and a Junior Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis and Priscilla Dance at the Police Boys Club. Each morning there is a special Elvis themed breakfast; there are various Elvis themed luncheons and dinners to choose from, the Elvis Lennox Private Collection, Australian Rock & Roll Tribute Wall Ceremony, the Elvis Golf Challenge, and a lot more.

And of course, visitors can also visit Parkes other attraction, the "Dish".

EIN: How many people are you expecting will invade Parkes over the Festival weekend?

TSS: Last year we had a record 7,000 people come to Parkes.  This year we expect that number to grow even more.

EIN: Parkes is not a large town so logistically there must be problems accommodating such a large influx of people.  How do you handle that?

TSS: You are not wrong.  All hotels and motels were sold out months in advance of the Festival, not only in Parkes but also in several of the neighboring towns.  Last year we had Tent City and it is back again.  In 2008 the number of tents has more than doubled.  In addition, we also have Home Hosting, a billeting arrangement where nearly 500 visitors are staying in the homes of Parkes residents.

EIN: The Festival was awarded by the NSW Government a few years ago resulting in Government sponsorship.  What is the status of that funding?

TSS: In 2006 the Festival won an Inland NSW Tourism Award and with it came funding of $20,000.00.  The funding expires with this week’s Festival.

EIN: So what does that mean for the 2009 Festival?

TSS: We have used the grant to fund our television advertising campaign and also our Festival Program. From this year we are printing an A4 sized Festival Program full of artist profiles, the full events schedule, tourism information, a map of Parkes etc.  It is an affordable $5.00 and we hope it will be self funding for 2009.

We also have a number of strategies in place to attract further sponsorship for the Festival and we expect these will be realized in the coming months. 

Presently our sponsors include ClubsNSW, Parkes Shire Council, Keno, Country Energy, Elite Travel, Transtank and Rex Express.  Jack Daniels is a new sponsor that recently came on board.

EIN: You mentioned the El Gamble pod cast.  As a world first global event this has the potential to put Parkes and the Festival on the world stage.  Please tell us about it.

TSS: The Festival Committee is not directly involved with the three and a half hours pod cast.  It is an initiative between Elvii Radio in the USA and El Gamble’s management company, Event of Events.  It will run on Elvii Radio and through a network of several hundred radio stations worldwide.

EIN: Is there a strategy to promote Parkes and the Elvis Festival as part of the pod cast?

TSS: Unfortunately we only became aware of the podcast a few days before Christmas so timing has not let us become more involved.  We understand the pod cast will essentially be based around the El Gamble show and there will be a small amount of coverage or promotion for the rest of the festival and Parkes itself.

EIN: And the Parkes Elvis Festival 2009?

TSS: As soon as the 2008 Festival ends we will be sitting down to start work on next year's program. It is a never ending but exhilarating cycle.

EIN: Tiffany, thank you again for taking the time to talk to us.  To wrap up our interview is there anything else you would like to say?

TSS: It has been my pleasure.  The only other thing I would like to say is that we are always looking for new sponsors who would like to support the Festival and expose their company or service to a wide audience.  If anyone is interested in knowing more they can contact me on mobile: 0412-880085 or by email: tslacksmith@optusnet.com.au

Visit the "Official Parkes Elvis Festival" website

EIN spotlight on the Parkes Festival

Visit Elvii Radio

Read about El Gamble

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