Crowds building in Tupelo for Elvis’ birthday festivities

TUPELO – Several hundred tourists are expected to visit Tupelo this week as the city celebrates two homegrown Mississippi boys.
Rock ’n’ roll icon Elvis Presley and country music star Marty Stuart will share the limelight this week as the city celebrates what would have been Presley’s 75th birthday.
As part of the festivities, Philadelphia native Stuart at 10 a.m. Friday will unveil an exhibit inside the lobby of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mayor Jack Reed Jr. will join in to unveil a Presley jumpsuit on loan from Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The event is free and open to the public.
At the same time, Stuart’s music memorabilia exhibit, “Sparkle and Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey,” officially will open at the Tupelo Automobile Museum.
The tourists already have started arriving, said Dick Guyton, executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace. He hosted a tour group from Denmark on Monday and expects to have more international visitors throughout the week.
According to Linda Elliff, the CVB’s sales director, at least 500 international tourists are expected to visit the birthplace on Thursday and Friday. Guyton plans to have cake for 800 people at the 1 p.m. birthday party, which is free and open to the public.
“We’re anticipating a bigger crowd than we’ve had in the past four years,” Guyton said, adding that every fifth anniversary of any Presley event is a bigger draw for fans.
However, he said the August anniversary of Presley’s death draws more people than the birthday. While 200 to 300 people visit the birthplace for a regular birthday, about 2,000 to 3,000 people will visit the birthplace for the fan appreciation day on the anniversary of Presley’s death, Guyton said.
With cold weather in the forecast, the birthplace is setting up heated tents for Friday’s celebration.
“I think the people that are coming to this region because of the birthday will still come,” Guyton said. “The question is whether the people who live here in the region will come out. We don’t get a lot of Tupelo and area people out here and we’d like to encourage them to come out.”
As far as the Stuart events, Linda Butler Johnson, the CVB’s executive director, said she has “no clue” how many people will show up for the Friday unveiling.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal