ALL SHOOK UP – Excitement abounds at Tupelo’s Elvis Festival

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal



TUPELO – If sideburns were dollars, the city coffers would have been full Saturday as Elvis fans from all over the world celebrated in downtown Tupelo.
David Lee of Birmingham took home first place in Tupelo’s 2012 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition on Saturday as one highlight of the Elvis Festival.
Tupelo’s winner advances to the UETA main event in Memphis. However, since Lee is already representing Ocala, Fla., in the Memphis competition, and second-place Jay Dupree is representing Philadelphia, Penn., third-place finisher Tyler Hunter of Lincoln, Neb., earned that chance.
Lee said Tupelo was the contest he wanted to win the most, even after getting a bid to the Memphis contest.
“I tried to zero-in on why the people are here,” Lee said. “Everyone loved Elvis because he had that presence that made people go, ‘Woah.’ We can’t get there but if we can just get a little touch of it, I tried to zone in and get that.”
Hunter said he is glad he has the opportunity to represent Tupelo in Memphis.
“Man, I’ve got to tell you it feels so great,” Hunter said. “Everybody here has been so amazing to me. Just the humble attitude of the people helping you out and supporting you. I’m really excited to represent Tupelo – such a fun place. This is probably the best time I’ve had in my life doing a contest, so I’m excited.”
The contest began Friday with 20 performers. Friday’s events also included main music act Paul Thorn. Saturday kicked off with a parade of classic cars and Elvis look-a-likes down Main Street, complete with an Elvis tribute artist in a pink Cadillac.
Boomer, a Boston terrier from Branson, Mo., won his third-straight Elvis look-a-like contest in the Tupelo Elvis Festival dog parade.
Adorned in a wig, gold sunglasses and a shiny black jumpsuit, Boomer strutted around the stage like he really was the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Boomer’s owner, Laurel Wilson, said he started performing when her daughter, Sarah Vega, had to make a Halloween costume for a school project.
“She sewed him a jumpsuit and now he has even more costumes,” Wilson said. “In Branson he acts as sort of a comedy act between performers in look-a-like contests.”
David Jorden and Terry Kennair of Hammond, La., sat outside their RV on the courthouse square – Jorden in Elvis shades and sideburns.
This year marks the third year the two friends have attended the festival together.
“I love Elvis, I’ve listened to him all my life, even before that a little,” Jorden said. “I enjoy watching the Elvis contest from start to finish. I like watching the good Elvises and I like the bad Elvises.”
Kennair said his all-time favorite Elvis song is “Suspicious Mind.” Jorden, however, couldn’t pick just one.
jb.clark@journalinc.com