NEWBERRY — Pull out those blue suede shoes and get ready: The first ever South Carolina Elvis Festival is coming to downtown Newberry this weekend.
The festival, scheduled for Sept. 12 through Sept. 15, is produced by Sherry Management LLC in association with Misty River Media and Tributes Radio. In addition to events taking place at the Newberry Opera House, other events will be held around town.
The festival kicks off at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 in Memorial Park with a celebration of the life and music of Elvis Presley. Irv Cass, master of ceremonies, will speak about the weekend’s festivities, and there will be performances from some of the headliners. The event is free.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 13, round one of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest will take place when some of the world’s best Elvis Tribute Artists compete for over $5,000 in prize money and the chance to represent South Carolina at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest held during Elvis Week in Memphis. This event will take place at the Newberry Opera House.
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. that day, various restaurants in downtown Newberry will be assigned performers for Elvis entertainment. There is no cost for guests at this event.
Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, the Memories Show will take place at the Opera House, starring Ben Portsmouth, the 2012 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Champion. The concert will commemorate the life and music of Elvis from his start in the 1950’s to the 1968 Comeback Special and his performances in Las Vegas in the 1970’s.
Saturday will begin at 10 a.m. with the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Round 2. Following the contest, more performers can be seen at various downtown restaurants and bars. At 8 p.m. that evening, the show Aloha, Southern Style will be given starring the first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist 2007 champion, Shawn Klush. This event will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ legendary Aloha from Hawaii concert.
Sept. 15, the final day of the festival, will begin at 9 a.m. with an Elvis Gospel Contest. In this event, the Elvis Tribute Artists will perform and get judged performing inspirational songs from the King of Rock and Roll’s musical catalog.
The finals for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Travis Powell, one of the performers for the South Carolina Elvis Festival, said he was talked into joining the team about a year ago. “I’ve always been an Elvis fan,” Powell said. “I enjoy taking Elvis’ music to people.”
Powell loves what he does because he says that his fans love Elvis as much as he does, which makes it fun. One of his most interesting shows Powell said was when he described almost getting his neck broken over a fan who “just wanted his scarf.”
Ben Portsmouth, the 2012 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, also will perform. From the UK, Portsmouth said his father got him hooked on Elvis music as a kid.
“I picked up dad’s guitar, played music, and sang along,” Portsmouth said. He began to play guitar when he was around 4 or 5 years old, but said he didn’t know how to play much at that time.
Beginning eight years ago, Portsmouth said one of his more interesting shows also involved his scarf being fought over in a show performed in Brazil. He recalls looking down 30 minutes after his scarf was taken, to see it being ripped to shreds by women who were anxious to own just a piece of it.
Portsmouth said that the new experience of a South Carolina festival is sure to make a good show.
“Whether you’re an Elvis fan or not, it’s going to be entertaining,” he said.
For more information about the weekend’s events, visit http://southcarolinaelvisfestival.com/.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.