`Late Wednesday, the Collingwood Elvis Festival Committee announced Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ former wife, will be attending the 20th annual Collingwood Elvis Festival this summer, July 23-27. She will be joined by Christopher Ameruoso, co-author of her new book, Shades of Elvis.
Festival general manager, Rosemarie O’Brien, said they will arrive on July 24 and attend numerous events in the festival, including a gala dinner, the opening ceremonies, a mayor’s cocktail reception, and two book signings and autograph sessions.
“I couldn’t be prouder than this moment,” said O’Brien. “I am thrilled to officially announce that Priscilla Presley will be attending the 2014 Collingwood Elvis Festival to help us celebrate our 20th anniversary.”
The American actress was married to Elvis from 1967 to 1973 and went on to found Elvis Presley Enterprises. She is also largely responsible for making Graceland the multimillion-dollar tourist attraction it is today. The couple had one child together, Lisa Marie, in 1968.
The committee previously tried to get her here for the 2013 festival.
“It’s a huge thrill and an honour to have Priscilla here to help us celebrate our milestone year,” said O’Brien.
The book shows photos Ameruoso took of celebrities wearing Elvis’ famous sunglasses including musical legends, such as Steven Tyler, Elton John, and Eddie Van Halen.
Previous famous guests to attend the festival honoring the life and music of Presley include Elvis’ male background vocalists, The Imperials, female backup group, The Sweet Inspirations, and first cousin, Donna Presley-Early, among others.
Elvis Festival board chair, Peter DeVries, said this will be Presley’s first trip to Canada.
“You can well imagine how excited we are to have Priscilla come attend our festival, and it’s remarkable for the first festival she’s ever attended, it will be in Canada.”
This year’s theme is “Elvis Gold” in honour of The King’s singles and albums that became gold-certified.
The festival was extended from four days to five this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary.
Mayor Sandra Cooper said she can’t wait to show Presley and Ameruoso what Collingwood has to offer.
“On behalf of council I am thrilled to be able to welcome Priscilla Presley as well as Christopher Ameruoso to our community for the 20th annual Collingwood Elvis Festival,” said Cooper.”We are so pleased they have chosen to join us during the 20th anniversary to event.”
As the largest Elvis Festival worldwide, there will be more than 100 tribute artists and four Vegas-style shows. The committee also received $46,000 from the provincial government last month for the festival. The money is allotted for the Wednesday night opening show of the festival.
Mayor Cooper said this will benefit Collingwood and the region in terms of economic development.
“To have Priscilla Presley and Christopher Ameruoso visit us is just something that you would only think about, and the Elvis committee has been working on this for close to 20 years,” said Cooper. “This is precedent-setting.”
The event began in 1995 with 35 tribute artists, and has grown to be one of Collingwood’s defining attractions. Tickets will go on sale on Monday and range from $5 to $70.
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