Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Top 10 Free Things to do in Tupelo This Summer


1.) Walk in the footsteps of the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll at the Elvis Presley Birthplace. Eleven of the fourteen exhibits on the grounds are free of charge.

2.) Participate in the largest 4th of July celebration in Northeast Mississippi at the All-America City Family Picnic in Fairpark. Enjoy entertainment, activities for the kids, and a performance by the Northeast Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, all culminating in a huge fireworks display. 

3.) Beat the heat this summer with a trip to one of Tupelo’s parks. Get soaked at the Veterans Park Splash Pad. Dance in the fountain at Fairpark.
4.) Stand in the spot where musical history was made at Tupelo Hardware. Listen to the tale of how Elvis Presley’s mother, Gladys, bought his first guitar instead of the rifle that he really wanted. Strum on one of the guitars that are still sold at the store today.

5.) Travel the road forged 8,000 years ago by natives to this area on one of the many trails along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Headquartered in Tupelo, take a trip to the visitor’s center at milepost 266 where you can view a film, experience interactive exhibits, and see what life was like for the first travelers on this infamous road.

6.) Boogie through the King of Rock & Roll Guitar tour in Downtown Tupelo, featuring over 30 hand-painted steel guitars crafted by students in the Tupelo Public School District.

7.) Get Down on Main for the free summer concert series in Fairpark July 10 featuring Hot Buttered Rum and Howlin Brothers, August 14 with Bobby Rush and Homemade Jamz, and September 11 including the North Mississippi All Stars and Water Liars.

8.) Walk through history at the Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center and Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield. Learn about Northeast Mississippi’s important role in General William T. Sherman’s “March to Atlanta” and walk the 1,600 acre hallowed ground where General Nathan Bedford Forest’s small mounted cavalry secured a decisive victory over the much larger Union army.

9.) Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon at Ballard Park. Enjoy the skate park, disc golf course, two playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, and picnic pavilion. Just don’t forget to pack a snack for the ducks that inhabit the park’s three-acre lake.

10.) Take a stroll down the Music Bend Nature Trail. This 2.5 mile path runs parallel to Mud Creek in east Tupelo, where Elvis Presley was known to skinny dip with his buddies back in the day. Take a break and cool down at the overlook and read the marker on the Elvis Presley Driving Tour to learn more about his antics growing up in Tupelo.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Final Stand Weekend Schedule

150th anniversary living history and reenactments
June 13-15, 2014

Friday, June 13-Children’s Civil War Discovery Day- 10 a.m.
-Children ages 7-15
-Register at the Mississippi’s Final Stands Visitor’s and Interpretive Center; Parents welcome.
-$5 fee. 
-Shuttle to battlefield, visit camps and stations; meet re-enactors and learn about civil war music, weapons & campfire meal.
-Concludes at 1:45 p.m.

Saturday, June 14 Camps open at 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. and 3:30 until 5 p.m.
-Bethany A. R. P. church will offer a tour and history of the church from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
-Self-guided or docent-guided tours Bethany Historic Cemetery 9 -2
-Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and Gen. U. S. Grant will be portrayed all day at their tents
-Park Rangers from the Natchez Trace Parkway will have children’s dress-up stations at the NPS site and    Interpretation at the Tishomingo Creek site.
-Patrick Shell will portray a United States Colored Troops soldier all day at his tent
-8 p.m. Period ball and dance, visitors welcome
**2 p.m. Battle of Brice’s Crossroads reenactment fought on the original battlefield

  Historians and Authors’ Presentations:
-9-10 a.m. Author Ken Knopp, “Horses in the Civil War”
-10 a.m.-12 p.m. Ladies Social and Program by Beverly Simpson, “Why am I dressed        like this?”
-12-1 p.m. “Battle of Brice’s Crossroads”- Walking tour Dr. Stewart Bennett
-3:30-4:30 Roger Hansen- firearms used at Brice’s Crossroads and Tupelo battles 1864
-4:30-5:30 Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo and his home near Bethany- Carmon Horner

Sunday, June 15- Camps open 9:00-1:00 p.m.
-9-10 a.m. Period Church Service at Activity Tent
-10 a.m.- 11 a.m. Dedication of interpretive panel describing action of 12th KY and Capt. Henry A. Tyler by Kennesaw, GA Civil War Center, Dr. Brian Steel Wills
-11-12 p.m. Brent Lokey, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and Streight’s Raid
-12-1 p.m. Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg, Old Town Creek –Author Tom Parson
-**2 p.m. Battle of Tupelo reenactment

**The Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center will be open Friday and Saturday 9-6 p.m. and Sunday 9-5 p.m. Fee for reenactment is $10 for ages 14 and up.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Young Expectations: A First-Timer to Tupelo Elvis Festival (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second part of a two part series detailing the expectations of a first-time visitor to Tupelo Elvis Festival. This part details the experiences and thoughts of a journey through the festival. 

Shaved my sideburns, took off my giant sunglasses and washed the gel from my hair; the Tupelo Elvis Festival is done for 2014. My hips and legs are a little sore from all the dancing and my voice is hoarse from singing along, but it was an experience unlike anything I had participated in before. As mentioned in the previous blog, this was my first year to attend the festival and I had zero idea of what to expect.

Previously, my opinion of Elvis impersonators was that of a derogatory stance against one of my favorite artists, so I had high hopes for the Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs). I hoped to have my eyes opened to a new realm of performers who actually paid tribute and worked to promote the legacy of Elvis Presley. After witnessing three rounds of stiff competition, I can safely say that is exactly what they did.

The Elvis Tribute Artists competitions were incredibly fun to watch. The ETAs have more respect and admiration for Elvis as a man, performer and humanitarian than the most hardcore fans I’ve met. Granted, the ETAs have studied Elvis’ performances extensively (and it showed in their acts) but it was obvious they studied him beyond just Elvis the performer. The ETAs seek to reflect the compassion, humility and honesty that Elvis maintained off stage.  

That said, the toughest part of the competition had to be the judging of each performer. All of the ETAs were so enormously talented, I don't see how anyone could pick a favorite. The most difficult job in the arena had to be the judges position. If it had been up to me, I would’ve had to award all of them.

Several times during the competitions I found myself so impressed by the singing that I closed my eyes just to hear the performer’s voice. If I kept my eyes long enough, I had to wonder if I was listening an Elvis album. It was that good.

Between competition rounds, I was able to speak with a few of the ETAs and was impressed to learn that most of them don’t just perform Elvis music. Several said that they had a band or performed their own material solo. To be an impressive ETA is no small feat, but to be able to also perform in another area impresses me doubly.

Despite all the wonderful three rounds of ETA competition, I believe my favorite part was the Sunday morning Gospel Brunch. It’s been well documented that Elvis grew up on gospel music and that it had a profound impact on his life and career. Closing the weekend festivities with gospel music brought it all back home to me. It was as if the event was coming full circle to say that yes, Elvis was a rock n’ roller but without gospel music none of this would’ve happened.

Surprisingly, after my first Tupelo Elvis Festival, I walked away with a different understanding that what I had anticipated leaving with. I expected to have some fun, listen to some Elvis music and hear some great stories from interesting people. However, the largest thing I walked away with was a new understanding of the level of talent that Elvis operated on. To perform at the level he did, star in 33 feature films, sell millions upon millions of records and leave a legacy that is still celebrated 37 years after his passing is something that very few people can pride themselves on. I guess that’s why they call him “The King.”  

Meet Maston Prewitt, a first time competitor at the Tupelo Elvis Festival. Maston came all the way from Colorado to perform at the festival. 

Photo Albums: 
For a full photo album from Band Together, click here:

For a full photo from Tupelo Elvis Festival 2014, click here: