By Judy Thorburn
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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

Las Vegas Hilton Hosts “Heart of the King Fest”

Elvis fans and some of the best “Elvis” tribute artists from all over the world gathered at the Las Vegas Hilton from July 14 -17 for the “Heart of the King Fest”, a fans festival, convention and special closing night concert. Among the daily offerings for fans was a tour of Elvis dressing room and backstage areas, a convention room filled with vendors selling all sorts of Elvis memorabilia and merchandise including but not limited to jewelry and clothing, the appearance of several entertainers and actresses who worked with the King and those who were his close friends, including Joe Esposito, Elvis' former road manager and bodyguard.

John Stuart with Joe Esposito
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn courtesy of John Stuart


A competition to pick the best Elvis tribute artist drew contestants of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities from all over the United States and as far away as Canada, Scotland and Australia who showed off their best Elvis moves and vocal talents in vying for the title and a grand prize of $10,000. After whittling away the competition to eleven finalists and then down to the top three, it was Dwight Icenhower from Orlando, Fla, who impressed the judges the most and walked away the winner. Justin Sandor from Portland, Oregon placed third and Australian born Mark Anthony, who is now based in Toronto, Canada, came in second.

On Thursday night, July 15, the Red Carpet Premiere of Sean Stewart's documentary film “Heart of the King” (recipient of the “Audience Award” at the Silver Lake Film festival in California) that follows four Elvis tribute artists struggling to fulfill their dream, was held at the Hilton Theatre. Stars of the film, Elvis Priestly, Mark Sutt, Danny Morten and "Little E" Austin Hopkins were in attendance and posed for photos before entering the theatre.

 You can read Jacqueline Monahan's review of the film at


Elvis Priestly, Mark Sutt, Danny Morten and "Little E" Austin Hopkins with Producer/Writer/Director Sean Stuart
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn courtesy of John Stuart

Comedian Sammy Shore
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn courtesy of John Stuart


Another highlight of the Heart of the King Festival was the closing night concert titled “Elvis, That's the Way it Was” on July 17 celebrating the 40th anniversary of Elvis' appearance at the International (before it was renamed the Las Vegas Hilton). The show was presented as a recreation of the historic performances portrayed in the Elvis documentary of the same name and starred Shawn Klush, Graceland’s Official Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist and the BBC’s ‘World’s Greatest Elvis’. Featured were also some of the cast who performed with the King including Elvis’ Imperials, the Sweet Inspirations, comedian Sammy Shore, Elvis’ drummer and Rock N Roll Hall of Famer DJ Fontana.

For more information about the festival go to

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