COLLINGWOOD ELVIS FESTIVAL HISTORY
HIGHLIGHTS EACH YEAR
1995 First year of Festival. Held at Vacation Inn now known as Georgian Manor Resort. It was called the “Canadian Elvis Tribute & Convention” and was promoted by a Tribute Artist. Approximately 35 Tribute Artists attended his new and unique event.
1996 Second Annual “Canadian National Elvis Tribute & Convention Ball” was held at the Collingwood Curling Club. With attendance numbers increasing and the addition of the Street Party and showcase this event was earning its permanent place among Collingwood’s annual events.
1997 Third Annual “Canadian Elvis Tribute & Convention was held at the Collingwood Curling Club. A themed program was adopted. “The 20/40 Canadian Anniversary Salute.” The theme paid tribute to the 20th anniversary of Elvis’ untimely passing and the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ Canadian performances.
1998 Fourth Annual Festival celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the ’68 Comeback Special by promoting the theme “Elvis Comeback Special ‘98”. The Festival was now incorporated and renamed The Collingwood Elvis Festival Inc. and was owned on a 50% share by the local Collingwood & District Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Collingwood BIA.
1999 Fifth Annual Festival celebrated the theme “I’m Back” and was held at the Collingwood Curling Club. This was the 1st Salute to the past Collingwood Grand Champions.
2000 Sixth Annual Collingwood Elvis Festival was celebrating the life & music of the “Artist of the Century” Forever Elvis theme. This would be the last year the event was held at the Collingwood Curling Club.
2001 Seventh Annual Collingwood Elvis Festival celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the “Taking Care of Business – In a Flash” theme by relocating our event to the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. Our Non-Denominational Gospel Worship Service was added to our event listings. We earned recognition as one of the Top 50 Festivals in Ontario out of over 3,000 Festivals across the Province.
2002 The Eighth Annual Collingwood Elvis Festival adopted the theme “Collingwood Remembers….” In honour of the 25th Anniversary of Elvis’ passing and the 45th Anniversary of his appearances in Canada. The Festival earned Top 50 Festival status for the second consecutive year, as well as winning awards for Best Poster, Best Program and Best Overall Promotional Campaign during the Festival & Events Ontario Annual Convention. The Festival earned nominations for Business Excellence, Customer Service Excellence & Employee of the Year through the local Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
2003 The Ninth Annual Collingwood Elvis Festival saluted Elvis’ 30 #1 hits and also recreated the “Aloha from Hawaii” satellite concert. The Youth Division of the competition added a Junior & Senior champion. This also marked the first year that the ownership changed hands. The Town of Collingwood took over the operations and ownership of the Festival and implemented a new Elvis Municipal Services Board. A new updated logo was created and we were named in the Top 50 Festivals category for the third consecutive year. We also earned nominations for Business Excellence, Customer Service Excellence and Employee of the Year, through the local Chamber of Commerce for the second year.
2004 This year will mark our 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the Collingwood Elvis Festival. More events & Arena Shows were added. We celebrated our past history and included the return of our past Champions in our arena shows. A revised competition structure was implemented. The Divisions were split into an “Era Competition featuring The Early Years/The Concert Vegas Years. We were once again named in the Top 50 Festivals category for the fourth consecutive year.
2005 The Eleventh Annual Collingwood Elvis Festival celebrated the theme “Elvis Lives”. This special theme showcased the continued success of Elvis’ legacy and his impact on the success of some of the biggest recording stars of the last 40 years. Our 1st “Invitation only” Gospel Competition was added to our events.
For the fifth consecutive year we are included among the Top 50 Festivals in the province.
2006 Marking our 12th year celebrating the Collingwood Elvis Festival with the theme “Elvis…Live the Dream”. Celebrating Elvis’ Canadian appearances through a salute to the archived “Chum Charts” and the historic look at Elvis’ most popular chart topping hits. Sirius Satellite Radio becomes the Festival’s title sponsor. The new Starshine Series is created at the local Gayety Theatre highlighting $5 performances.
Elvis’ co-stars Cynthia Pepper and Suzanna Leigh join us as our V.I.P. Guests. Our Festival once again is among the Top 50 Festivals in Ontario. The Festival receives a Marketing grant under the T.E.M.P.P. initiative through Tourism Ontario.
2007 Celebrating 13 years of the Collingwood Elvis Festival and remembering Elvis 30 years after his death, with the theme “Elvis…Then, Now & Always”. A uniquely developed three-tiered Souvenir Program cover shows Elvis throughout his illustrious life and career. The Festival is included among the select few events to receive a “Celebrate Ontario” grant. A T.E.M.P.P. grant is received for the 2nd year through Tourism Ontario. Regional venues are developed in Thornbury and Wasaga Beach. Cynthia Pepper returns and Elvis’ musical director, Joe Guercio, visits Collingwood for the first time. Still an event garnering inclusion in the Top 50 Festivals.
2008 marks our 14th Annual Festival event. Our theme “Essential Elvis” will highlight some of the most successful and legendary performances of Elvis’ career. For a second consecutive year the Festival receives a “Celebrate Ontario” grant and is considered among the Top 100 Festivals in the Province. Tourism Ontario provides a T.E.M.P.P. grant for the 3rd consecutive year. A new regional venue is included in Meaford. The Festival relocates its competition venue in the Pine Street lot to a new location. Patti Parry, the only female member of the “Memphis Mafia” joins us as a V.I.P. guest for the first time.
2009 A special year commemorating our 15th Anniversary of the Collingwood Elvis Festival. Our theme “Celebrating Collingwood Memories” included the return of our past 15 years of Champions. Special V.I.P. guests included “Blue Hawaii” co-star Darlene Tompkins, Elvis Concert Tour Manager Charles Stone, the return of “Kissin Cousins” co-star Cynthia Pepper, International Elvis Tribute Artist Champion Shawn Klush and Celebrity Guest Emcee and Radio Personality from Graceland, DJ “TY”. The Festival receives a Festival and Events Ontario Achievement Award for Best Virtual Campaign (Website), a Celebrate Ontario Grant for the third consecutive year, a T.E.M.P.P. grant for the 4th consecutive year and is once again considered among the Top 100 Festivals in the Province.
2010 Entering our 16th year with a commemorative theme “Welcome Home Elvis”, the Festival salutes the 50th Anniversary of Elvis’ return home from his service in the Military. A look at his pre & post Army days including famous interviews, a new album and movie release and a special “Trivia Concert”. With Elvis’ back up vocal band, The Imperials, as VIP guests, the Festival also features the “Crowning of the King” contest where past Grand Champions vie for the “best of the best” title and are actually judged by The Imperials who knew and worked with Elvis himself.
2011 “Salute to Vegas” was the theme chosen for the 17th Annual Festival. Featuring the Memphis Ultimate Champions from 2007 to 2010, the audience was treated to the very best concert performances that skyrocketed Elvis’ fame in Las Vegas. Welcoming Elvis’ personal jeweler, Lowell Hays, who’s claim to fame was his creation of the TCB pendant and ring, the Aloha ring, the Maltese Cross and the Lion necklace that Elvis wore. The Festival also added a special “In Memoriam” page to the program and the website to honour the members of our “Festival Family” that we have lost.
2012 The phenomenon of Elvis Presley and how he is revered and respected around the globe formed our theme for the 18th year “Elvis Worldwide”. Through a Celebrate Ontario grant we brought Elvis Tribute Artists from around the world to enter our competition including Brazil, Germany, Japan, Denmark, United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and Switzerland. Helping us to celebrate Elvis’ legacy was our VIPs, Jerry Schilling, childhood family friend & movie stand-in; Sam Thompson, personal bodyguard & tour advance manager; movie co-star Cynthia Pepper and personal jeweler Lowell Hays.
2013 There were many incredible moments throughout Elvis’ career so our theme became “Elvis: Signature Moments” for year number 19. Welcoming back three Memphis Ultimate Champions, together with the legendary Stamps Quartet led by original member Ed Enoch and the Sweet Inspirations, we authentically re-created the historic “Aloha from Hawaii” concert for a sold out crowd. Also joining us for the first time was Memphis Jones, the official Emcee of Elvis Week in Memphis. Memphis is also an incredible music historian, as well as a blues musician on famous Beale Street.
2014 A monumental year for Collingwood as the Elvis Festival celebrates its milestone 20th Anniversary with the inclusion of the fabulous Priscilla Presley in attendance. History was made as the Festival received a special commemorative statue presented to us by Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises. Also among the incredible VIPs who helped us recognize the past two decades included celebrity photographer, Christopher Ameruoso; Mario Della Casa, celebrity artist & painter and creator of the official Genie bottle from “I Dream of Jeannie” fame; and eight movie co-stars including Cynthia Pepper, Christopher Riordan, Tanya Lemani, Gary Lockwood, Chris Noel, Anne Helm, Marlyn Mason, and Victoria Paige Meyerink. The theme of “Elvis Gold” described our 20th Anniversary perfectly.
2015 The theme “This Is Elvis” salutes the journey through the life of Elvis from grade school to the evolution of music history at his hands. A collection of engaging memories of who Elvis was to the world and how he forever changed music history, to his incredible concert performances in the 1970’s, with Ultimate Champions Jay Dupuis and Dean Z, plus the “true voice of Elvis” Doug Church.
2016 Experience everything Elvis, from who he was, to who he became, that resulted in Elvis being “Timeless”. With special guests Memphis Jones, famous blues musician from Beale Street and the historic Emcee from Elvis Week in Memphis, TN, together with Charles Stone, Elvis’ concert tour manager, Jimmy Velvet, celebrity Rock n Roll friend of Elvis’, and Letitia Henley Kirk, who was Elvis’ live-in nurse at Graceland. Memories and timeless stories entertain the fans as we introduce the Storyteller Series in our 22nd year of the Festival.
2017 Celebrates the greatness that is, was and always will be Elvis Presley with the showcasing of nine of the 10 Ultimate Champions from Memphis, TN. Bringing the best of Elvis’ life and career through three highly anticipated signature shows. Ultimate Beginnings takes you through the “firsts” of Elvis’ humble beginnings, Celebrating Greatness showcases his greatest and most memorable performances, and finally the Ultimate Finale focusing on the final accomplishments of this musical icon’s journey. Also featuring twelve (12) of our returning Grand Champions.
2018 Elvis Presley has united fans worldwide and Collingwood will salute that accomplishment with our theme being “Elvis United” in celebration of our 24th annual Festival. Seeing the return of 2017 Early Years Grand Champion, Brycen Katolinsky, from Canada, together with Ultimate Champion Dean Z, from the USA, and a proud moment in our Festival’s history as Gordon Hendricks, from the United Kingdom, returns as our 2017 Concert Years Grand Champion and as the 2017 Ultimate Champion after winning the prestigious contest in Memphis, TN, as our Festival’s representative.
VIP “FRIENDS OF ELVIS”
Each have appeared in Collingwood
Joe Esposito – Elvis’ Road Manager & Best Man
DJ Fontana – Legendary Drummer in the Early Years
Al Dvorin – famous for “Elvis has left the Building.”
The Jordannaires – Elvis’ Back-up Singers
Sue Ann Langdon – Co-Star from “Roustabout”
Mike McGregor – Jeweler for Elvis’ Belts & Buckles
Marian Cocke – Elvis’ Nurse in later years
Edie Hand – Elvis’ Cousin
Donna Presley-Early – Elvis’ 1st Cousin
Jerry Schilling – Elvis’ Movie Stand & best friend
Dick Grob – Elvis’ Security Team
The Blackwood Quartet – Gospel Back-up Group
The Sweet Inspirations – Female Back-up Group
Suzanna Leigh – Co-Star in “Paradise, Hawaiian Style”
J.D. Sumner – Elvis’ Bass Background Singer
Darwin Lamm – Publisher of “Elvis International Forum”
Patti Parry – Only female in the Memphis Mafia Joe Guercio – Elvis’ Music Director
Darlene Tompkins – Co-Star from “Blue Hawaii”
Charles Stone – Elvis Concert Tour Manager
Sam Thompson – Head of Security
Lowell Hays – Jeweler for Elvis’ Rings & Necklaces
The Imperials – Elvis’ Male Background Vocalists
Ed Enoch & The Stamps – Elvis’ Male Back-up Singers
Priscilla Presley – Elvis’ only wife
Anne Helm – co-star in “Follow That Dream”
Christopher Riordan – co-star in eight Elvis films
Chris Noel – co star in “Girl Happy”
Marlyn Mason – co-star in “The Trouble with Girls”
Gary Lockwood – co-star in two Elvis movies
Victoria Paige Meyerink – co-star in “Speedway”
Tanya Lemani – as belly dancer in “’68 Comeback”