WESTLOCK - After two years without a public Blue Suede Music Festival, it is coming back once again, and this year, to a new location.
For several years, the festival to honour the King of Rock n’ Roll Elvis Presley was held in Busby, but beginning this year, it will be at the Ag Society Grounds on the west side of Westlock, starting Friday Aug. 5 and wrapping Sunday Aug 7. Organizer and festival originator Trudy Taphorn says she is excited to once again bring the show back to the public with some of the best Elvis Presley tribute artists gracing the stage.
This year will be the 14th-annual Blue Suede Music Festival, which will include some Elvis tribute artists familiar to local audiences, plus some new ones. With the new location comes lots of changes and challenges, but in true Taphorn fashion, she has it all laid out.
Entrance to the festival will be on the south side of the grounds, just past the Ag Barn.
“That’s where parking for vehicles and RVs will be, she said. RV’s will be able to move in Friday morning starting at 10 a.m. The stage and sound system will be set up then as well, and some of the tribute artists will be there to wander around for a meet and greet with people,” she says.
The beer gardens will open that afternoon at 3 p.m., located at the north inside of the Ag Building where the big door opens towards the stage. The Ag Building will also be used for silent auction and merchandise items. The stage will be located on the north side of what is normally the parking lot, facing south.
Taphorn says reserve seating wristbands will be available in the beer gardens. That evening starting at 8 p.m. will be the open mic karaoke, where aspiring singers can come to the stage to perform.
On Saturday, the gates to the grounds will open at 8:30 a.m., and gates to the seating area will open at 9 a.m. At 10 a.m., the show begins, with the first half of the rotation of various tribute artists performing many familiar Elvis tunes. The beer gardens will open at 11 a.m.
The final round of artists Saturday evening will be accompanied by the Flashback Band from Edmonton, a local group some are familiar with and Uptown Hornz, along with two backup singers from Kelowna.
Sunday will run on a similar time schedule, with the tribute artists performing Elvis gospel tunes with the Blackwood Quartet once again providing backup. Mark Blackwood is Taphorn’s VIP for the weekend and will be there Saturday as well. He grew up with Elvis and will be on stage for some storytelling and to answer questions.
Taphorn says she has 15 tribute artists scheduled, with some of that dependent on flight schedules.
“There will be 14 for sure,” she said, which includes some of the regulars and some new to the Blue Suede Music Festival.
There will be two or perhaps three shuttle vehicles to bring performers and audience from the hotels in Westlock to the grounds.
Admission to the festival is $50 per person for the entire weekend, or $30 per day, plus a food bank donation of either non-perishable food items, cash, or things like diapers, dog and cat food, and everyday items are required to get in the show. The four food banks which receive the donations are Morinville, Westlock, Barrhead and the Ripple Connection in Barrhead. The donors will be given a bright yellow wristband as proof.
“Donations to the food banks is why I keep the admission prices low,” she notes.
Taphorn herself is a very dedicated Elvis Presley fan, and the Blue Suede Music Festival was born in 2009 out of an idea to have a few of her tribute artist friends to the Taphorn acreage in August to perform a show for friends and neighbours in a casual “house party” type of atmosphere. From there, it grew to the larger show that many Elvis fans have become familiar with. Unfortunately, shows 12 and 13 were back to the smaller versions at the Taphorn acreage due to COVID.
This year though, it’s back with a weekend of some of the very best Elvis tribute artists providing great music and memories of the King in a non-competitive setting. Visit bluesuedemusicfestival.com for more information.