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 September 2005
 
 
            Arik Christopher & Alex Swindle. The two Winners.
 
Hello everyone...I'm sorry for being away for a few months, I've been extra busy!! I'm back this month to tell you about an event that took place in August 2005. The Big E Festival & Contest put on by Joni Mabe "The Elvis Babe" in Cornelia, GA. Read on, and enjoy!!

It started off to be a very nice morning in Cornelia, GA. The sky was clear, but VERY HOT. Everyone gathered at the Historic Loudermilk Boarding House Museum, which features Joni Mabe's Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis. This was the location for the 6th Annual Big E Festival & Contest. Joni is known to have one of the best contests around, and you can surely tell by the turnout she gets every year!

There were food vendors set up and the front porch was ready to be taken over by the sea of black hair and sideburns waiting to share their talents with the crowd.

The show started off with a performance by Ghost Radio, a metro Atlanta band that plays some Elvis tunes. They are a great act! Immediately following their set, the contest started off with the Youth Division. These three little guys, and the little gal were ready! The lineup (in no particular order) consisted of: Alex Swindle of Birmingham, AL, Charlie Cole IV of St. Pauls, NC, Tevin Loggins of Clarksville, GA and a special performance by Demi Downing of Georgia. Unfortunately last year's Youth winner, Sean Sharp of Indian Trail, NC was unable to attend, but he was missed!! They all really impressed the crowd with their knowledge of the Elvis songs, and the way they showed their love for Elvis! When all was said and done, little Powerhouse Alex Swindle took home the title this year, which was well deserved! They were all great, but the judges felt Alex had the extra little something that made him the winner! He was followed by 2nd Place of Charlie Cole IV and 3rd for Tevin Loggins.

The adult division of the contest consisted of the following ETA's: Arik Christopher (the 2004 Big E Festival People's Choice Champion), Gary Elvis Britt, Walter Busby, Rick Wade, Matthew Spalding, Ronnie Norton, Johnny Elvis, Charlie Cole III, Owen Roberts, Jerry Cureton, and Dana Daniels. There was a special performance by the 2004 Big E Festival Champion, Damon Hendrix. Damon was awesome, and really showed the crowd just exactly why he was the previous years winner. We heard lots of great 70's Elvis tunes, and saw a lot of very nicely made rhinestoned jumpsuits! There were only TWO 50's Elvis performers in the contest, Arik Christopher and Matthew Spalding. The Prelim round went very well, all the guys gave 110% and gained recognition from the audience for the job well done. The field had to be narrowed down to 5 to move on into the final round of competition. When the scores were tabulated, the final 5 in random order were: Gary Elvis Britt, Arik Christopher, Charlie Cole III, Dana Daniels and Owen Roberts. They knew they all had their work cut out for them to give the best performance possible and win the hearts of the judges!
We witnessed again a lot of 70's Elvis tunes, done wonderfully. Each guy had their own special way of making their performance unique. They all deserved a round of applause for making it this far and trying one last time to win the top prize! Four 70's ETA's and just one 50's ETA. In the end it was the one who pulled out the awesome Jailhouse Rock outfit, and sang You're So Square, Treat Me Nice and the powerful Jailhouse Rock, that took away the victory!! At the end of Arik Christopher's set, he had a Cornelia cop come to the stage and yell "You've had your fun Vince, let's go!" and lead him away! It was exciting! Not only did Arik WIN the contest, he again took home the title of the People's Choice Award. The judges announced they felt he was "Channeling Elvis" the whole day.

The final results were:
1st- Arik Christopher & People's Choice
2nd- Charlie Cole III
3rd- Gary Elvis Britt
4th- Dana Daniels
5th- Owen Roberts

The whole contest was wonderful, it started to pour down rain RIGHT after they announced the winner. All the guys got along extremely well and all had fun together. An afternoon of baking in the sun, which was very much enjoyable! Joni Mabe runs a GREAT contest! She is a very sincere person and a HUGE Elvis fan! Thank you Joni for the great things you do in Elvis's name, and THANK YOU to all the ETA's that came out and brought a little joy to many lives that August afternoon!