Elvis tribute coming to City Park

Elvis Presley fans will want to be at the Parkersburg City Park bandshell on Oct. 5 for the “Best of the Best Elvis Fest.”

Billed as the area’s first Elvis festival, the show will feature veteran Elvis tribute artists Jim Forshey and Steve Sams along with young Elvis performers Hank Poole and Devon Forshey.

The free event begins at 2 p.m. If it rains, the show will take place under the horseshoe shelter at City Park.

Jim Forshey of Parkersburg, an Elvis tribute artist since 2004, said he hopes people will bring their Elvis memorabilia to the festival. Forshey recorded a CD of Elvis songs last summer in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Forshey expects the four tribute artists to perform individually and together.

Hank Poole, 8, of Vienna has maintained a busy schedule as an Elvis tribute artist-1950s style since his first show last summer in Belpre with Sams.

Poole performed several times at Elvis Week events at Graceland in Memphis in August. He is scheduled to return next summer to perform at Elvis Week activities.

Poole said he enjoyed meeting Elvis tribute artists from around the country in Memphis.

A table of photographs from Poole’s shows in Memphis will be set up for the October festival in City Park.

Poole performed at last Saturday’s Park Day celebration on the patio in front of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Parkersburg. He will sing Elvis songs at the Harvest Moon Arts and Crafts Festival in City Park today at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. His Elvis show moves to the Lincoln Theater in downtown New Martinsville at 7 p.m. today.

“He has it. He’s a natural,” Jim Forshey said of Poole at Saturday’s performance in downtown Parkersburg.

Poole can sing about 50 Elvis songs.

Forshey’s son Devon, 6, started performing as an Elvis tribute artist this summer, after watching his dad’s shows.

***

Mike Penn is using his love of Parkersburg in an artistic way.

Penn, a 1968 graduate of Parkersburg High School, was selling his pen and ink, watercolor, oils and pencil drawings of Parkersburg buildings last Saturday during Park Day on Market Street.

On Labor Day, Penn participated in an art show at Point Park in Parkersburg.

His artwork depicts buildings such as Parkersburg High School, the Burwell Theater, the old Parkersburg City Building, the windmill gas station, the B & O railroad station on Sixth Street and many other city landmarks.

He said he selects subjects to sketch that “draw me in” or “jump out at me.” Penn finds photographs of old buildings and gets permission to draw them.

His drawings and paintings appear on note cards, greeting cards and prints ready for framing.

“Business is picking up,” Penn told me. “I am pushing myself. I am having a blast.”

Penn moved back to Parkersburg three years ago from Minneapolis where he worked as a registered nurse. His parents, Jim and Betty, were Parkersburg natives and Mike spent several years in Parkersburg in the 1960s.

Penn said he has fallen in love with Parkersburg since returning to town.

His drawing titled “PHS 29” depicts the U.S. flag flying at half-staff at Parkersburg High School after the 29 coal miners died in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia in 2010.

Penn can be found at the farmers’ market on Market Street and will be a vendor at the winter market scheduled to open in October at the floodwall.

***

Artsbridge will be moving into a larger building on Market Street on Nov. 1, said board president Lee Rector. The first floor of 925 Market St. has 5,000 square feet, five times larger than the current Artsbridge building at 935 Market St., Rector said. Besides being larger, the new Artsbridge headquarters will be more visible, he said. The building’s facade will look like an old movie theater. Artwork will be displayed in the first-floor headquarters. Wal-Bon Corp. owns the 925 Market St. building, the former Monongahela Power building.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com