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Elvis fest is coming to Westlock starting next summer

Blue Suede Music Festival organizer and ag society agree on deal that will see event in Westlock until 2025
WES - Elvis Fest DSC_8112
The Blue Suede Music Festival, which features Elvis tribute artists from around North America, will be moving from Busby to Westlock starting next summer.

WESTLOCK – Elvis is coming to Westlock. Well, no, Elvis Presley has long since passed away, but the Blue Suede Music Festival, featuring Elvis tribute artists, founded and organized by Trudy Taphorn, is indeed coming to Westlock.

Actually, the annual festival was already planning to move from the Busby location, where it had been held for several years, to Westlock in 2020. This year should have been the second year, but COVID-19 put a halt to that both years. The last Blue Suede Music Festival, the 11th-annual show, was held in Busby in 2019, and featured 15 Elvis tribute artists.

But it was learned just recently that that event organizer and founder Trudy Taphorn has come to a formal agreement with the Westlock and District Agricultural Society to bring the performances to Westlock for the next several years — COVID-19 permitting, of course.

She told Town & Country Today recently the first of the Westlock Blue Suede Music Festivals would have been held in the summer of 2020 and again this past summer. That did not happen, but the ag society has approved dates going forward. Traditionally, the festival was held in mid to late August, close to the date of Elvis’ passing on Aug. 16, 1977. Due to the regular Westlock Ag Fair dates and the August long weekend, some of the dates going forward have had to be moved to July, she said.

“For next year (2022) the festival is scheduled for Aug. 5-7 and for 2023 it will be held July 28-30. In 2024, it will be held July 26-28, and then 2025, it will be July 25-27,” she added.

Taphorn said she has not been in contact with any of the Elvis Tribute Artists yet, as the dates have only been recently set. Usually, she has as many as 15, some from B.C. and Alberta as well as other provinces and even the U.S. in the past.

“The in-person meeting (with the a society board) of course was cancelled. They did one by conference call and I didn’t participate in that. I was asked to send a letter outlining what my plans are. I kept getting feedback, wondering about this and that, and finally said I need to know if this is going to be a go.”

She said they were wondering what their involvement was going to be, and she assured them, there is no involvement by the society, she is renting the facility is all. “If people want to volunteer to help, by all means, I will give them a job.”

She still plans to hold it outside, as she did with past shows, but exactly where on the grounds has not been determined at this point. There is still lots of work for her to determine the best location for everything — the stage, seating area, vendors, beer garden, etc.

“It’s going to be hard, because it’s kind of like starting over.”

“My performers are all on board,” she noted. “My American performers are chomping at the bit to get here, but that still remains to be seen. All of my VIPs are American. Some of the performers said moving it (the festival) to early August or late July is actually better for them.”

Over the past two years that she has not been able to hold the festival in the usual way, she said it has just been held at the Taphorn property with much smaller groups. A ‘scaled-down” version.

 “The performers are chomping at the bit to get back to the big shows as in the past. All the ones that were on the list to come to Westlock in 2020 are all on board to come for 2022. They’re ready to go as soon as we can get this thing off the ground again. It’s a go for Westlock; but who knows when.”

Bob Jones, president of the ag society, said he’s looking forward to it.

“According to her (Trudy Taphorn), it’s going to be second to none. She always gets a good crowd. It’s well organized. She's got lots of help, so I don’t have any reservations about it at all,” said Jones.

Les Dunford, TownandCountryToday.com