• Brandi Perry

tupelo elvis festival: We're all shook up!

Updated: Jul 8

In March, we found out we would be attending the Tupelo Elvis Festival after 2020’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19. If we are being perfectly honest here, we had no idea what to expect. Being that both of us were raised listening to Elvis Presley while riding in the car with our parents and continuing to listen to his music long after childhood, we knew there would not be a bad part of this amazing festival and we were right!

Our first afternoon there, we attended a 3pm Rockin’ Around the World Concert at BancorpSouth Arena. The concert was hosted by Tom Brown and featured Nick Perkins (2018 Tupelo Ultimate ETA), Dean Z (2013 Ultimate ETA), Jeff Lewis (Official Tupelo Elvis Festival and Elvis Week After Parties Host), and Billy Cherry (2009 Tupelo Ultimate ETA and Ultimate ETA). Now, you’re probably wondering what an ETA is and do not worry, we did not know either. An ETA is an Elvis Tribute Artist and these guys are simply incredible!! Dean Z actually has a show in Branson, Missouri and Bill Cherry and Jeff Lewis tour all around the country. If you were fortunate enough to see Elvis in concert, these guys will take you back to that day, complete with Elvis moves, voice, and looks. Many of these ETA’s bare an uncanny resemblance to the King himself! If you never had the privilege to see him before he passed away, this has to be the closest representation of him! It was simply amazing.

ETA’s come from all over the country to participate in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition. On Friday night they started with 10 contestants and the judges cut that number down to 5 for the Saturday morning semi-finals. At 6pm Saturday night the finals were held and Alex Mitchell walked away the winner. He will go on to compete at the Graceland in Memphis in August as part of their Elvis Week and hopefully become the next Ultimate ETA Winner!

Other than concerts throughout the weekend, there were other really amazing events. One such event was the Conversations with Tom Brown that featured Linda Thompson. This was a section of the programming in which Mr. Brown interviewed special guests who were influential in Elvis’ life. This was also the first year for the TCB Fights, which brought quite the crowd to the weigh-in party at Steele’s Dive and the band, Blacktop Ridge, was one of the best we had heard in a while.

Saturday afternoon, the ETA’s were part of a Meet and Greet throughout Downtown Tupelo and the Tupelo Elvis Fan Club held many activities downtown as well. There was even a living history demonstration at Tupelo Hardware Company where Elvis got his first guitar. Even though temperatures were in the high 90s and the heat index climbing well over 100, crowds flocked in and out of stores and restaurants throughout the historic downtown. Last, but certainly not least were the Jeff Lewis and Friends After Parties at the Silver Moon Club. This Jam Session was full of special guests and was a great way to close out a busy day!

On Sunday, there was a Gospel Brunch followed by a Gospel concert that was the perfect way to end an amazing time in Tupelo. Not many people know that gospel music was the genre that Elvis loved the most and the ETA’s and other musicians played many of his favorites and several of the gospel songs he so proudly sang himself.

I cannot tell you just how amazing this weekend was or how excited we are to be able to attend next years event! Go ahead and make plans now to attend June 8-12 in Tupelo! Contact the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau at (662) 841-6521 to find out more! We will see you in 2022!

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