Elvis Impersonators on a Stage and Art Work in a Park This Labor Day Weekend in Two New Hampshire Cities

Two of the largest cities in New Hampshire, Keene and Manchester, feature art and artistry Labor Day weekend 2011.

Keene’s Art in the Park is an outdoor event now in its 53rd year. More than 80 artists are expected to exhibit and sell their work in the lovely setting of Ashuelot River Park, September 3-4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artwork of students from two local high schools will likewise be on display. A raffle providing a scholarship given to a graduating senior from the two schools who plans to pursue art studies in college will take place. The winner selects a piece of artwork as his or her prize. Local musicians provide entertainment. The event, sponsored by the Monadnock Area Artists Association, is free and open to the public.

Ashuelot River Park is a stroll away from several shopping plazas, so finding a parking spot and places to eat and drink are easy. Keene is in the southwest corner of the state and is about half an hour’s drive from the major highway in the area, Interstate 91.

The New England Elvis Festival in Manchester’s Radisson Hotel runs September 2-4. A three-day extravaganza, the festival celebrates Elvis’s music, life, and fans.

The festival’s headline event is the Friday night competition of 20 of the world’s top Elvis tribute artists vying for cash prizes. The competition takes place on the stage in the hotel’s Armory Ballroom. Finalists compete Sunday afternoon with the Champion having the opportunity to represent New England at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest planned for Memphis in August 2012.

The people performing refer to themselves as tribute artists, not impersonators. Tribute artists are highly skilled, priding themselves on capturing every nuance of the artist they are portraying.

Saturday night’s lineup kicks off with Sonny West, Elvis’s friend, confidant, and bodyguard for 16 years, sharing stories and answering questions before England to New England begins. The show opens with Robert Washington in a set celebrating Elvis’s younger years. England’s Ben Portsmouth follows him in Portsmouth’s first headline appearance in this country. Portsmouth performs songs from The King’s 1970’s jumpsuit years.

Elvis collectibles are on sale, a dance party is scheduled for Saturday night following the show, and an Elvis gospel music contest is scheduled for Sunday morning. A printable schedule of events is available and you can buy tickets online. There is ample parking in the Radisson’s garage and you will be charged a parking fee.

On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to noon, several Elvis tribute artists perform at a free concert in Veteran’s Park across from the Radisson on outdoor stage. Manchester is about a 50-minute drive from Boston. The city has an airport.

The festival is looking for judges and volunteers and encourages people to apply.

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