Fans of the King follow that dream

ELVIS impersonators and fans dusted off their blue suede shoes, spruced up their spangled outfits and combed their Elvis-inspired wigs before boarding the Elvis Express.

More than 300 die-hard Elvis Presley fans left Central Station on Thursday, January 9, heading for the annual Parkes Elvis Festival.

The train also stopped at Strathfield, Parramatta, Penrith, Lithgow, Bathurst and Orange stations before arriving at Parkes later that day.

Among the arrivals at Parramatta station were friends Judy Papa of Liverpool, Sue Butterfield of Kings Langley and Cathy Hill of Wentworthville.

This was Miss Papa's first visit to an Elvis festival.

"It was a love of Elvis and the girls inviting me," she said.

"It will be lots of fun, and hopefully there be lots of dancing and lots of Elvis impersonators."

Ms Butterfield is returning to the festival with her friends.

She said the Elvis Express attracted her to Parkes.

"I'm not even a big Elvis fan but the train was on my bucket list," Ms Butterfield said.

"I don't even have one Elvis song on my iPod."

Ms Hill agreed the train should be on "everyone's bucket list".

Kissing Cousins is the theme of this year's festival and Elvis fans dressed in their best country hick inspired outfits, including Sandra Vigers of Parramatta.

Ms Vigers has a range of rockabilly fashion which she wore at the festival, found at various retro stores.

Ms Vigers said the festival gave her and others the opportunity to dress up.

Elvis tribute artist Elias Jamhour has been entertaining festival-goers on the train for four years.

He was also going to perform at the festival.

Mr Jamhour said the festival let fans strengthen Elvis's legacy.

"It's the only true Elvis festival in Australia and it has grown year by year," he said.

"It's the success of Elvis and his legacy — I think it will last through the ages.

"The man died in 1977 and people are still singing his songs and watching his movies."

The Elvis Express train has been taking Elvis Presley fans to their so-called "Graceland" at Parkes for 12 years.

The five-day festival attracted 18,000 fans from around Australia to the tiny central west town.

This year, festival organisers put together a massive line-up, with 150 Elvis-inspired activities and events.

■ Were you on the Elvis train?

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