Elvis Festival Takes Collingwood

Why is it that Elvis impersonators tend to choose the later Elvis as their model, not the svelte younger one? Perhaps because the heftier incarnation is a slightly easier one to ape. This is not for us to judge, but we will anyway. You can’t deny the global fixation with rural Elvisism is fascinating. And we are proud of the fact that our region is internationally competitive in this field. Imagine: a weekend on stunning Georgian Bay, Blue Mountain rises majestically behind you, and in front, scores of Elvi (Elvises?) and thousands of fans.

Starting this Thursday, July 26, the twelfth annual Elvis Festival descends on Collingwood. Twenty thousand pilgrims join roughly 110 rhinestoned doppelgangers in what Doug Shimizu, champion impersonator, calls “a huge Elvis love-in”. Considered the best Elvis-fest in the world, it more than doubles the town’s population with worshippers arriving from as far as Australia and Japan. “You get all types, from amateurs to pros. It’s great for the guys who aren’t pro because they perform, learn and get the inside scoop like where to get suits made,” adds Shimizu.

Warning: check your irony at the door. They think this is cool, and you’re badly outnumbered. It is a huge, riotous good time. Collingwood’s bars offer round-the-clock shows. Daily scheduled events include a tribute artist karaoke pub crawl, a daily Texas Hold ‘Em poker challenge, heart-stopping pancake breakfasts and a youth showcase. Even members of the original entourage – like Elvis’ nurse, aunt, drummer and career best friend/biographer, Joe Esposito – have dropped by.

Nowhere to crash up north? You’d best book right away warns Sandra Girdle, lifelong resident and Cover-to-Cover bookstore proprietor, or you could do the drive back to the city on the same day. “You’ll be hard pressed to find a place to stay within 25 miles of here.” Viva Collingwood!

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