On August 16, 1977 the world lost “The King of Rock and Roll”. During Elvis Presley’s lifetime he influenced many, creating a new era of music and style. Even though Elvis died many years ago, his legacy lives on every year at Collingwood’s annual Elvis Festival.
In 1994, the Vacation Inn (now known as Georgian Manor) hosted a Canadian Elvis Tribute and Convention. This was the beginning of the Collingwood Elvis Festival that occurs annually each July in Collingwood. It grew better every year and is now considered to be one of the best in North America. It has been sanctioned by Graceland, a division of Elvis Presley Enterprises, meaning it meets all of the standards and criteria set by Graceland. Every effort has been made to appeal to a wide variety of visitors especially families. Each year, this event draws tens of thousands of people to the Collingwood area that all share a love for Elvis. Collingwood’s Elvis Festival is the largest festival of its kind in the world and it’s recognized as an international event. This event is so successful, that for the last 7 years it has been named as one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario by Festivals and Events Ontario.
Collingwood’s Elvis Festival 2013
As I walked down the main street of Collingwood I could really tell how many people Elvis had influenced. Even though the weather was not perfect all weekend, many Elvii were still performing and running around, entertaining Elvis’s fans. There were thousands of people there, making the downtown street of Collingwood seem crowded; however, you could see the love for Elvis in everyone, both young and old, and they showed it by dancing and toe-tapping along with the music. The spirit and love of Elvis was found throughout the whole crowd and what makes this festival so special, is that the whole town gets involved.
The stores on the main street decorated their windows with cut-outs of “The King” as well as other memorabilia. Local restaurants and stores also held private concerts in their buildings and the local Tim Horton’s made “King Cookies” to help raise money for multiple charities. Many people drive around in their vintage cars to help “set the era” for the fans. Through these small gestures of the locals, you feel as though you are taken back in time to when Elvis was still alive. The fact that the whole town supports this event makes it that much more special to the Elvis fans.
So as the competitions and festivities wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, many fans were sad to go. Although I had never really been a fan of Elvis, during the festival I realized that he was much more than a singer to his fans. He allowed people to express themselves through his music and his death was a tragedy to the music industry. Collingwood’s annual Elvis Festival allows the spirit of Elvis to continue to thrive and allows the whole family to enjoy “The King of Rock and Roll”.