By JB Clark
TUPELO – Cars sporting license plats from Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts and everywhere in between filled the BancorpSouth Arena parking lot Saturday as Elvis fans took in the Elvis tribute artists, carnival, concerts and more festivities.
This year, the festival, carnival and other events were moved from Broadway Street and the Lyric Theatre to the BancorpSouth Arena, bringing the Pet Parade, vendors, carnival midway and tribute artist competition all into the Arena and its parking lot.
Dianne Bring and Sharon Robin traveled from Nebraska for their first Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival. Both said the festival has been awesome.
“We’ll be back,” Robin said. “I got to go to the birthplace for the first time. I’ve been a fan since I was 11 and it was always a dream to sit on that porch swing. It was like stepping back in time.”
Bring said the whole experience makes her interest in all things Elvis much more real. “It’s totally different to see it in person instead of reading it in a book,” she said.
Today is the final day of Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival activities with a gospel brunch concert beginning at 10 a.m. at the BancorpSouth Arena. The concert will feature The Landmarks, Tupelo Unity Choir, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, ETA Victor Trevino Jr. and Memphis Jones Band.
The festival began Thursday night with a performance from past Elvis Tribute Artist winner Cody Slaughter and introduction of this year’s 25 Elvis Tribute Artist participants. Friday morning featured the first round of competition and was followed that evening by Ingram Hill and Sister Hazel performing in Fairpark and an Elvis tribe concert at the BancorpSouth Arena.
Saturday started off with the Running with the King 5k and the Elvis Pet Parade and Pageant. Tribute artists competed to be named Tupelo’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist.
Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Neal McCoy said they are waiting on ticket sales information before announcing an estimated number of out-of-town visitors to Tupelo this weekend, but they expect that number to be large with the festival and a baseball tournament hosted in the city.