Our field-trip to the Elvisfest

I don’t know why I remember this, but here’s a fun-fact about Elvis impersonators that I was actually able to track down on the web here:

When Elvis Presley died in 1977, there were an estimated 37 Elvis impersonators in the world. By 1993, there were 48,000 Elvis impersonators, an exponential increase. Extrapolating from this, by 2010 there will be 2.5 billion Elvis impersonators.

Well, that statistic hasn’t come to pass, but we did have the chance to experience multiple Elvis-like performers the other night right here in Ypsilanti at the Michigan Elvisfest. It was a fine slice of local culture; here’s a brief video with a few highlights:

A few highlights to add:

  • It was kind of an interesting crowd– sort of a mix of a mix of white trash/red-neck folks, people who like the country and western, hard-core Elvis fans, locals out for a good time (that’d be us), and hipsters there on a goof. Actually it was a pretty fun group all in all.
  • There’s a whole Elvis impersonator culture out there that Annette and I were completely unaware even existed. For example, it isn’t “Elvis Impersonators,” but “Elvis Tribute Artists,” or “ETAs.” The MC (who was also an former ETA) kept bringing up all sorts of events similar to the Michigan Elvisfest all over the midwest and beyond. Who knew?
  • Sadly, we only saw one real Elvis Tribute Artist– or is that Elvi?– performing that evening, as you can see from the video. There was a staging area where there were ETAs standing around waiting to get their pictures taken and selling their ETA CDs and other merchandise.
  • Remembering her college youth, Annette noticed a lot of similarities between this thing and drag shows. For example, the adoring fans gave the various tribute artists flowers, which, I am told, is the practice at drag shows, too. Which makes sense since what is an impersonator excuse me, tribute artist but someone in drag?
  • The video features Annette drinking a beer, which, for those who know her, is about as rare as (interestingly enough) an honest to goodness Elvis sighting.
  • Frog Island was a good place to see a show, but every once in a while, we’d get a whiff of sewage smell. I have no idea where it was from, maybe the river, maybe a water treatment plant near there, I don’t know.

So, that’s another thing to check off my “to do in Southeast Michigan” list.

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