By JOLENE CRAIG
PARKERSBURG - Several hundred Elvis Presley fans crowded around the City Park bandshell on Saturday afternoon to watch a tribute to the King.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Hank Poole, 8, of Vienna, plays to the crowd around the City Park bandshell on Saturday during the “Best of the Best Elvis Fest.”
About 500 people settled in lawnchairs for the roughly two-hour show that brought together four local Elvis tribute artists - established performers Steve Sams and Jim Forshey were joined by young newcomers Hank Poole and Devon Forshey.
Poole, 8, of Vienna, has been performing a '50s style Elvis tribute for more than a year, but has been "obsessed" with the early rocker most of his life, said his mother, Samantha Poole.
"When I used to babysit Hank, he'd always ask me to watch his show," said Poole family friend Robin Gregory. "With Hank impersonating Elvis is a passion - he's Elvis-obsessed."
Elvis Presley Fans
* Hundreds of people filled the area around the City Park bandshell to pay tribute to Elvis Presley on Saturday during the "Best of the Best Elvis Fest."
* Four local tribute artists, including established performers Steve Sams and Jim Forshey as well as young newcomers Hank Poole and Devon Forshey, Jim Forshey's son, helped keep the King's memory alive.
* Organizers plan to make the festival an annual event.
Samantha Poole said her son became enamored with Presley and his music as a toddler because his father Bill Poole works as Sams' sound engineer.
"He go this first Elvis costume at the age of two years and two months and he's never stopped," she said. "He just loves it."
For one song, Hank's younger brother Max, 5, got on the stage to perform a song, which became a duet as the older boy did not want to give up the microphone.
"Because Max is Hank's little brother, he is driven crazy by Elvis and wanted to sing one on his own," said Bill Poole to the crowd.
"It seems they are both natural showmen," Gregory added.
The four tribute artists performed separate sets before doing a short set together at the end for the excited crowd on Saturday.
"I'm a lifelong Elvis fan and know Jim Forshey and wanted to be part of something here," said Dee Anderson, of Parkersburg, who helped organize the event.
Rosemary Speakman, Anderson's daughter, said she was surprised by the turnout.
"There are a lot more people than we thought would come out," she said. "But I think the great weather helped us."
Anderson said she hopes to make the festival a yearly event.
"I've been an Elvis fan for 53 years," she said. "I saw him perform when I was 5 years old and I was hooked."
Samantha Poole summed up the event the best as she looked at the crowd of people, who ranged in age from young children to older adults.
"The spirit of Elvis lives on because people keep performing his songs and coming to things like this," she said.