If Brunswick has learned one thing through its experience with the Georgia Elvis Festival, it’s this — the fans are devout. Attendees travel internationally and from as far away as the West Coast with a dedicated group of locals rounding out the mix. Come mid-March, they can be found having a festive time in downtown Brunswick, but that’s not to say they haven’t faced challenges. A downpour, for instance, dampened the kickoff a few years back, prompting the event to be moved indoors. The high spirits of the crowd and performers, however, remained undaunted. The same is true this year, when the event, now known as the Georgia Tribute Festival. Kicking off this evening, it will face an unfamiliar set of circumstances surrounding the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
For organizers like Terri Futreal, the mood ahead of the event remains upbeat.
“We, as well as the Ritz Theatre, have initiated proper protocol for our guests and our performers in regards to the Coronavirus,” she said.
They plan to take precautions and the event will continue as planned. It begins with a kickoff for ticket holders only at 8 p.m. at the Blue Door in Brunswick. There, entertainers and competitors will perform for those who will be attending the festival.
On Friday, the first day of competition will begin at 11 a.m. at the Ritz. It will be a day-long round of preliminary contests for Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs). The performers will take to the stage to share multiple songs by the King. Their goal is to offer as authentic a portrayal as possible, including costuming, dance movements and vocals. Tickets are $29 for the day of competition.
From there, the ETAs will head out at 4:30 p.m. for Music in Old Town. They will perform in the pocket parks in the downtown area. These sessions are free and open to the public. That evening, there will be a headliner show, “EP Uncovered,” at 8 p.m. at the Ritz. Tickets are $59.
The day will wrap with a late night party for ticket holders only at Coastal Kitchen.
On Saturday, competition will kick up again at 11 a.m. at the Ritz, followed by another free session of Music in Old Town.
That evening, another headline performance, “Images of the King,” will be held at 8 p.m. at the Ritz. Tickets for the competition are $29 with the headline show passes priced at $59. An afterparty will be held at Coastal Kitchen.
The final day of competition will begin with a gospel music session at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the Ritz, followed by the last round of the contest, which starts at 1 p.m.
The winner, who will represent Georgia at the Images of the King World Championship in Memphis, will be revealed. Tickets for the gospel event are $29, as is admission for the final day of competition.
Following the crowning of the king, a wrap party will be held at 7 p.m. at Arte Pizza. It is free for ticket holders.
For Futreal, the organizers and performers are excited to share yet another year in the city.
“We are very excited to be celebrating our eighth year in Brunswick. Our festival is unique. We incorporate as many parts of downtown as possible, the parks, merchants, restaurants and, of course, the Ritz,” she said.
“If you have never attended our event, please do. We provide a weekend full of exciting entertainment, with talented entertainers. You will experience a journey back in time to relive the magic of a legendary American icon.”