Organizers pack downtown Tupelo with rockin' events for Elvis Presley Festival

There aren’t many places in the United States that can claim to be the birthplace of a king.
But as people around the world know, Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, had his earliest beginnings in Tupelo.
That’s more than enough reason to hold a party, and the 12th annual Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival will run Thursday to Sunday, June 6, in downtown.
“There’s going to be something for everyone with all of the activities and events scheduled,” said Daphene Hendricks, marketing director for the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, which oversees the festival.
At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Tupelo Community Theatre will stage “All Shook Up,” a musical that features Elvis songs, at the Lyric Theatre. The play also will be staged at 2 p.m. June 6.
In addition to the play on Thursday, there will be a street dance in front of the theater from 5 to 8 p.m. Also, a carnival will set up on Front Street from Thursday to Saturday.

In tribute
The action will start at 9 a.m. Friday, during the first round of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition at the Lyric.
“We have 43 tribute artists who are competing,” Hendricks said.
If you want to buy a $20 ticket, call (662) 841-6598. Tickets for round two of the competition have already sold out.
The Blue Suede Stage will be set up on Broadway Street on Friday and Saturday with free entertainment, including performances by tribute artists.
Running with the King 5K will start at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Veterans Park. The park also will host the 2010 Fling with the King disc golf tournament. Registration for the disc golf event will be noon to 7 p.m. Friday, with tournament action beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and June 6.
At 9, 9:30, 10:30 and 11 a.m. on Saturday, Coete Deonath, a young tribute artist, will reenact the purchase of Elvis’ first guitar at Tupelo Hardware.

Take part
The Elvis Presley Festival Parade will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Lineup will be at 9 a.m. at Robins/Noble Park, and the parade will travel to Fairpark.
“It’s a way the public can be a part of the festival,” Hendricks said. “They just need an Elvis banner or magnet on their car or an Elvis theme. We would love for them to play Elvis music and get into the spirit.”
To register for the parade, call 841-6598 by Thursday.
The 10th Elvis Look-a-Like Pet Parade will be 11 a.m. Saturday on Broadway Street. There’s a $10 entry fee, and prizes will be awarded in four categories.
Free children’s activities will be available from noon to 2 p.m. at the Broadway site.
“We’re going to have face-painting,” Hendricks said. “We’ll be putting sideburns on the kids.”
Everyone’s invited to check out the Elvis movie poster exhibit, which will be on display at the Tupelo Automobile Museum.
The festival will close June 6 with a gospel concert starting at 12:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.
The Foyer Boyz, the Tupelo-Lee County Community Choir, The Landmarks and The Martins will perform. Tickets are $22, and that includes a fried chicken dinner on the grounds. Call 841-6598, or check www.tupeloelvisfestival.com.
“It’s just going to be a good, old-fashioned gospel singing,” Hendricks said.
That’s quite a selection of events. It’ll probably be impossible to catch them all, but you’re welcome to try.
“It’s time for everybody from all walks of life to come together,” Hendricks said. “I think everyone will enjoy themselves when they get here.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

Find some fun
What: Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival
When: Thursday to Sunday, June 6
Where: Downtown Tupelo
Info: (662) 841-6598, tupeloelvisfestival.com
Extra: From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, a shuttle will make stops at the Lyric Theatre Tupelo Hardware, the Tupelo Automobile Museum and the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal