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Elvis Presley fans throng Australian town for festival

Elvis Presley may have died almost 40 years ago, but several clones of him arrived on a train at Parkes railway station in New South Wales from Sydney to mark the start of the 25th Parkes Elvis Festival in the south-eastern Australian town.

For five days in early January, the King of Rock 'n' Roll lives on in this celebration of all things Elvis, including a tribute contest, a Miss Priscilla lookalike competition, a parade, a gala dinner, and even a renewal of vows ceremony presided over by "Elvis".

This year, the iconic festival, themed after the heart-throb's classic 1964 film Viva Las Vegas saw fans donning not only rhinestone-studded jumpsuits and their best wigs, but also sequins and feathers.

Buskers were also present to entertain the crowds.

The town's population balloons to almost double its size during the annual festivities, with organisers expecting between 25,000 and 30,000 people to attend this year.

But the concept was not always welcomed by the locals.

"I think there was a bit of a cringe factor really with most people, including myself," said retiree Bob Bokeyar.

"But we have come to love Elvis and love the festival over the years."

First held in 1993, the festival was the brainchild of husband and wife Bob and Anne Steel, who then owned the Gracelands restaurant - named after the estate that was home to Presley - in the quiet town.

January is thought to be the best time for the festival as Presley was born on Jan 8, 1935. - REUTERS

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