Parkes Elvis Festival organisers 'disappointed' after Tamworth Country Music Festival clashes dates

Parkes Elvis Festival organisers are disappointed its annual festival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival now clash.
Parkes Elvis Festival organisers are disappointed its annual festival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival now clash.

'Bewilderment'.

That was the reaction of Parkes mayor, Cr Ken Keith OAM, when he learned - via the press - that the Tamworth Country Music Festival was postponed, and its new dates to clash directly with Parkes Elvis Festival.

The Elvis festival is due to take place from April 20-24 this year after a strategic, and subsequently vindicated, decision that the regular January date was too risky in the COVID climate.

High case numbers across NSW thanks to the highly-infectious Omicron outbreak have meant that holding a large event, even outside, would have provided unacceptable risk to the public, and we in Parkes are blessed to have superlative organisers with forethought.

The Parkes Elvis Festival has now released a statement highlighting its disappointment at the decision of the Tamworth Country Music Festival to clash dates.

"COVID has been devastating for the events industry and we have been watching the Tamworth situation closely with our hearts going out to all those impacted by the latest outbreak," read the statement.

"We are extremely disappointed and in a state of absolute disbelief that the decision has been made to move Tamworth Country Music Festival to clash with Parkes Elvis Festival.

"The current circumstance was a foreseeable possibility and accordingly we announced our move on September 30, 2021.

"We are well into planning for the April dates with artists locked in, suppliers secured, market stall holders confirmed and tickets sold.

"We also know that many of our loyal fans attend both events and are extremely excited about the Festival we have in store for 2022," the statement read.

It goes without saying that since the start of the COVID-19, the entertainment industry has been hit particularly hard.

The Parkes Elvis Festival organisers were keen to point out how much the industry needed support, and the fact the two festivals - which have significant participant crossover - are now clashing, means artists and suppliers have lost a huge source of a second income.

"Artists and suppliers have had an extremely tough two years and need as much support as possible," the statement continued.

"The situation where they will now only attend one of these two major events is yet another blow to the industry and many will be severely impacted, all entirely avoidable and created by this last minute decision.

"Parkes Elvis Festival firmly believes in working cooperatively with other regional events and ensuring that our event promotes tourism throughout NSW.

"When we delayed our Festival, there was an extensive research and consultation process behind the scenes to pick a date that would have the minimum impact on existing events and activities, including direct liaison with the Tamworth event team," read the statement.

The statement from the organisers concluded with a note of promise.

"Rest assured that the 2022 Parkes Elvis Festival will continue to be the incredible event we have planned on April 20 - 24, 2022," read the statement.

"We thank all our stakeholders for being part of our Festival, and really appreciated the overwhelming messages of support we have received since the Tamworth announcement.

"See you all in Parkes in April," the statement finished.

Rest assured that the 2022 Parkes Elvis Festival will continue to be the incredible event we have planned on April 20 - 24.

Parkes Elvis Festival

Cr Keith echoed the sentiments of organisers when he spoke to the Parkes Champion Post earlier today.

He was tactful when asked for his initial reaction to the decision, but it is clear how disappointed the Parkes Shire Council is by the flabbergasting decision.

"Bewilderment that they do that to the tourism and hospitality industry," said Cr Keith when recounting his experience on learning through the press the dates would now clash.

"The impact on the entertainment industry - artists, suppliers, stall holders and the like - it basically makes it only make it one festival and has halved their opportunities to make money after a tough few years.

"Adam Harvey is booked in to the Parkes Elvis Festival, and he won't renege on that, so it'll impact both of us, obviously," Cr Keith said.

Cr Keith went on to say a lot of the disappointment stemmed from the fact the Parkes Shire Council have always taken the Tamworth Country Music Festival into account when planning for the Parkes Elvis Festival.

"We cooperated and moved our initial dates for 2022 and 2023 so they didn't clash, we've always advised them in advance with dates so they had plenty of notice," he said.

"They haven't afforded us the same treatment - the first I heard the dates were going to clash was in their press release.

"It's a reaction of disappointment, and we have delayed our repsonse to make sure it a considered response, and also give them a chance to change their minds.

"I will be writing a letter to the Tamworth City Council to ask them to reconsider their decision, given the way we have always been considerate with them.

"If they don't move the dates, we will have to look at political avenues.

"The state government and TourismNSW supply funding to both events so I can't imagine they'll be happy," said Cr Keith.