There are five words people in the Okanagan will be able to hear again this June — Elvis is in the building.
One of the most prominent music gatherings in North America, the Penticton Elvis Tribute Festival, will return on June 23 to 26 after a two-year hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tribute festival is the only one of its kind in Western Canada and welcomes lovers of the King of Rock and Roll from all over the world.
Organizers of the event are expecting 30 tribute performers to make their way to the Peach City — 15 of which who are considered professional artists.
“We have one coming from Ireland, one from the U.K., Australia and Spain, a couple from Canada and the rest from the U.S.,” said Dave Martin, the president of the Penticton-based festival.
A panel of judges will determine the best tribute performer at the end of the four-day festival. The winner will receive $2,500 and a trip to the “Ultimate Elvis Finals” in the late artist’s hometown of Memphis, TN.
Each performer will look to impress both the judges and the audience by singing a couple of songs, owning the stage for about a 30-minute span.
“Even though the fanbase is a little bit older, we do have some young tribute artists that come and over the last couple of festivals, we’ve had a 16-year-old win the competition and now they have their own show years later,” Martin explained.
Not only has Martin secured top tribute performers, he’s also landed someone who knew Presley personally to join the festival.
Larry Strickland was Presley’s backup singer for most of the artist’s career.
Strickland is expected to tell some old stories about the Memphis-born superstar and join the judges’ panel for the final day of the event.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find people that actually worked with Elvis,” Martin said.
“He would have been 87 this year, so it’s good that we can still find people to help make the event come to life.”
Canada’s longest-running Elvis festival will take place both indoors and outdoors at Okanagan Lake Park and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, respectively.
The competition’s finals will go at the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) from June 25 to 26.
“It’s fun and just an awesome place to be,” Martin said about the famed festival.
People are asked to purchase tickets at Okanagan Lake Park at the gate, or at valleyfirsttix.com to book seats for select SOEC performances.