Elvis may have left the building in August 1977, but as millions of devotees and tens of thousands of Elvis impersonators will tell you, his spirit endures through his music and the tight-knit fan community formed in his name.
Thousands of such fans will converge Sunday for the wildly popular Elvis Festival at the Orange County Market Place in Costa Mesa.
"It kind of reminds me of a small-town carnival," said Kirk Wall, the festival's host since its inception. "They have things like watermelon eating contests and a huge turnout. A lot of different Elvises perform and compete, but it never gets ugly; it's always really light."
"It's great fun, and so well-produced," festival performer Danny Jacobson said. "It's a complete, daylong celebration of the King with impersonators, dancers, vintage cars, Elvis fan clubs and more. I am very honored to have been invited to perform this year."
The 12th annual tribute to the King, held in conjunction with the Market Place's popular swap meet, includes seven impersonators — and many more karaoke singers vying to step into "Blue Suede Shoes"; more memorabilia than the "Heartbreak Hotel" could ever fit into its rooms; and more Elvis-inspired food truck items than any "Hound Dog" could ever wolf down, including the King's favorite grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich.