*Editor’s note — the dates of the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival were incorrect on the event website. This story has been updated with the correct days and dates.
Organizers of the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival say they have a stellar headliner to help celebrate the 14th anniversary of the festival.
This year, they’ve booked Donny Edwards, an Elvis tribute artist that has earned a singular honour.
“Donny is probably one of the most amazing tribute artists in the whole world,” said director Terri Bremner. “He is the only one that has ever been allowed to perform his show on Graceland.”
Edwards, along with celebrity guest Cynthia Pepper, will be arriving in Penticton at 2:20 p.m. on June 25. Bremner said they are trying to get together a good reception for them at the Penticton Airport.
“We are going to have some of city council down there and most of our executive board,” she said, explaining it is no coincidence that Edwards and Pepper, who starred with Elvis as PFC Midge Riley in the 1964 film Kissin’ Cousins, are arriving together.
“He is very good friends with Cynthia Pepper. Cynthia is like his third mom,” said Bremner, adding that she expects Edwards to bring Pepper on stage with him.
“I believe he is going to sing the same song to her that Elvis sang in the movie,” she said, adding that she was impressed with the authenticity of both Edwards and Pepper.
“His is probably the closest looking to Elvis I have ever seen in my life. That he is the only one that the Presley family has allowed on Graceland was just very intriguing for me,” said Bremner. Edwards performs regularly in Las Vegas, which is also where Pepper lives.
“She lives on the outskirts of Vegas, so they see each other quite often. When I phoned Donny up and asked him if he was interested, at that point I didn’t know who to bring in as a celebrity, he said ‘why don’t you ask my friend Cynthia?’ So I kind of scooped her up along with him,” said Bremner.
Edwards, who has claimed two top world titles has never been to Penticton before, but this is the second visit for Pepper.
“This is exciting for her because they are so close and they will have a lot going on. Plus she has written a book on her experience with Elvis, and she will be selling her book, Pigtails, Presley & Pepper, at the festival as well.
From the kick-off party on June 26 to the wind-up on June 28, the Penticton Elvis Festival is a weekend filled with fun and music events celebrating the King of Rock ‘n Roll. It’s also the same weekend at the Peach City Beach cruise.
“This city is going to be popping at the seams,” said Bremner.
This year, the tribute artist competition starts at 9 a.m. on June 27 in Okanagan Lake Park, with Edwards performing that evening in the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Sunday (June 28) brings the ever-popular Gospel Music showcase in Okanagan Lake Park at 9 a.m., followed by the tribute artist finals at 2 p.m. in the convention centre. The winner of the Professional Category will represent the Penticton Elvis Festival at the ultimate Elvis Competition in Memphis this year.
Bremner said tickets are also on sale for the after party, which she said is one of her favourite events.
“We sold out at 400 last year and we are adding another 100 this year, but once it is sold, we are done,” said Bremner. “That is the most fun for me, because you are done with the competitions, everybody can relax and you go and have a nice dinner. Anybody that wants to get up and sing can and it is very laid back. It’s just the icing on the cake.”
Visit pentictonelvisfestival.com for ticket information and more.