WATE 6 On Your Side

Smoky Mountain Elvis Festival honors Lisa Marie Presley

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — The first annual Smoky Mountain Elvis Festival started just one day after the public learned of the passing of Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley’s daughter.

The festival took place at the Biblical Times Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge and ran from Jan. 13-15. Co-producer of the festival Tim Hendry says Lisa’s passing changed the meaning behind the event.

“After the finals are done, we are going to have a special candlelight vigil that was supposed to be just for Elvis but now it will be for Elvis and Lisa Marie,” Hendry said.

He added that all of the participants in the festival were devastated to hear about her death.

“Everybody here has been very saddened about the passing of Lisa, she was like the patriarch of the family after Elvis left, and she was almost like a princess to us,” Hendry said.

More than 20 Elvis tribute artists competed in the contest and the first-place winner won a cash prize of $9,000. The winner will also compete at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Graceland in August.

“Every year in august during Elvis week in Memphis they have the ultimate Elvis contest, which is considered the world championship. You have to win a preliminary to get into that contest and we are the first sanctioned United States preliminary for the Ultimate Elvis Contest,” Hendry said.

A portion of the proceeds will be going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a charity that Hendry said Elvis was known for donating to.

The festival plans to return to Pigeon Forge next year, Jan. 19-21, 2023.