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Elvis is coming? Local Elvis memorabilia collector set to display items at Farragut Folklife Museum
Exhibit slated to open Jan. 8, ‘The King’s’ birthday

Farragut’s Folklife Museum Committee has been excited about its upcoming exhibit for months, but member Linda Ford has hoped to honor the life of Elvis Presley, one of music’s all-time icons and her personal favorite, for much longer.

“This has always been a dream of mine personally,” she said. Ford knew the Fox Den home of her friend Lee Durand was filled with an extensive Presley collection. Considered “tongue-in-cheek” by both Ford and Durand, the exhibit is comprised of humorous pieces of art and memorabilia.

The museum committee and town staff hope to have a fitting crowd to honor the King of Rock ’n Roll for “Celebration! 70 Candles for Elvis,” a reception and grand opening of the exhibit on Presley’s birthday, Saturday, Jan. 8.

From 1 to 4 p.m., the Farragut Town Hall will be filled with everything Elvis.

Scheduled activities for the open house include light refreshments; expect to munch on some of Presley’s favorite dishes as well as a birthday cake in his honor. An Elvis impersonator will perform and Farragut’s Brad Nance along with a four-piece band will play some of the King’s most famous tunes.

Visitors will be able to have their picture made with a life-size Elvis and tours of the Elvis exhibit will be given continuously during the event.

Museum Director Doris Owens said, “We are thrilled to display just a small portion of Lee Durand’s fabulous collection; we just wish the museum was large enough to display everything.”

Ford said creating space to exhibit the hundreds of pieces visitors will see is going to be a challenge for Owens and museum volunteers.

Among them will be pieces from Ford’s personal Presley collection, offering a more serious feel to the exhibit.

“We want this to be a serious celebration of [Elvis’] life and music,” Ford said.

She considers herself a big fan, smitten with Presley’s music from the very beginning of his career.

“Elvis came on the scene and it was just an exciting time for a teenager or young adult,” she said. “He blew everybody else out of the water with his music.”

Ford contributed various momentos such as photographs, ticket stubs, album covers and an RCA banner that hung at Stokely Athletics Center during Presley’s first concert in Knoxville in April 1972. He performed twice that day, for matinee and evening shows, and Ford saw both, sitting in the front row with husband, Mayor Eddy Ford, for one of them. She was also in the audience the only other two times Presley came to Knoxville, in March 1974 and May 1977.

Ford has remained a fan and said she hopes the exhibit will have an impact on museum visitors. A special area in the museum will be set aside to display items relating to Presley’s death and funeral.

“If you’ve never heard of Elvis Presley or never had an appreciation for him, you will leave with a greater appreciation,” Ford said.

“He was a good person, a nice young man, a wonderful talent,” she added. “I think he’s a legend that will live on forever.”

Read more about the Elvis exhibit on display through the month of March on page 18 of this week’s farragutpress.


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