I wish to thank Lisa Lesage for sending along her enlightening story of how the Tweed Tribute to Elvis Festival came into existence and for including her very interesting bio of how she went from gate keeper to director in a short eight years.
When ETA Gordon Hendricks knows that folks from Tweed are at his concert, he always pays them recognition. He tells the story of how long a trek it was to find the town the first time he competed in Tweed, and it always gets a big laugh. Gordon’s fondness for the people of Tweed and the festival are evident. ETA Oliver Steinhoff describes Tweed as one of his favourite places in Canada. Oliver speaks highly of the festival and the friends he has made in Tweed. Lisa Lesage invites everyone who hasn’t been to the festival, to attend this year’s three day competition and celebration. And after reading Lisa's story and bio that are written with such festival and hometown pride, I am sure a lot of people, including me, will take her up on her offer and join the perennial festival goers in August.
Introducing: Lisa Lesage and
The Tweed Tribute to Elvis Festival
So I must, right off the bat, confess that I was not a huge Elvis fan until the past 8 years of my life. Of course, I, like many others of my age group, grew up with Elvis all around me. My mother loved him, and I think that she married my dad due to the fact that he kind of resembled the king in that he had dark black hair and blue eyes. But he couldn't sing, so that is where the resemblance ended. My mother’s family were very musical and, of course, they loved to pay tribute to Elvis by singing his songs; and they did this whenever they could. In fact, two of my uncles did this as a full time job for a while. The younger ones, who were a little shy, just went to concerts whenever they could. They loved to see Elvis live. I wish that I had that opportunity now, just like so many others in the world.
In 2011, my aunt, Kathy Scott, got together with a few people from Tweed, namely, Jim Keniston, Scott Pettagrew, and Bob Taylor, and decided to start an Elvis festival inTweed. There had been some bad things happen in Tweed due to outside influences, and the Town had a reputation of which it was not very proud; so Kathy went to the Collingwood Elvis Festival to meet with Rosemarie O'Brien to discuss how to start an Elvis Festival. Kathy came back with a lot of ideas. And what Tweed had that no one else had, was the distinction of being the last place that Elvis was seen after his death. This was due to a local owner of a restaurant dressing like Elvis on the anniversary of his death and on his birthday. This man would pipe Elvis music from the speakers of his restaurant, and one day a radio announcer returning to Ottawa from Toronto just happened to catch the sight; and when he got back to his radio station, he commented that he had just seen Elvis alive and well in Tweed, Ontario, Canada. This story has been told for the past 30 some odd years, so why shouldn't Tweed have an Elvis festival.
Eight years ago my aunt Kathy was looking for some help for the festival. I was a gate keeper, and I loved the job so much I decided to volunteer for the next year. Well, my aunt moved me into Celebrity Services, where you meet all the dignitaries, judges, ETAs and anyone else that is important to the competition. I became a Director on the Tweed Music Festivals Inc. Board of Directors. December of the same year, my aunt decided that she had enough of running the festival, so she resigned, and Jim Keniston took charge. I remained in Celebrity Services. That year was a great year for the festival, and we were doing all right.
The next year Jim Keniston resigned as Chair of the Festival. There seemed to be no one who wanted to take it on, so I jumped in. At the time I was working full time, had kids at home, and a husband who liked to see me once in a while.
In 2013 we had our first international Elvis come from Europe. We had made it! We were so excited to have an ETA from another continent. The international ETA was Gordon Hendricks, who was crowned the 2017 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist in Memphis Tennessee this past August.
Since then, we have had at least two international tribute artists come to our festival each year, and last year saw the biggest crowds since our inaugural year. Tweed Tribute to Elvis is always looking for ways to improve our festival, and we take great pride in always evolving to make the Festival a more enjoyable event for the guests that come and camp on sight for 5 days, and for the ETAs that perform for 3 days straight. We have over 100 volunteers that work the week before and after the festival. Our 18 managers work year-long to ensure that everything is in place for the big weekend of August the 24th, 25th and 26th.
If you have not yet joined us, this is a great year to plan on being at the Tweed Elvis Festival. To check us out go to tweedelvisfestival.ca.