Tupelo • Some say it all started in January 1946 with a guitar. Others will claim it began on Sept. 9, 1956 on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

But in our fair hamlet, all agree that the real important date is Jan. 8, 1935.

That’s what the Tupelo Elvis Festival is all about, celebrating the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – and events planned over the next several days will do just that. The 21st annual event kicks off Wednesday with activities for fans of both Elvis and music in general.

For the Elvis enthusiasts, there’s the annual Elvis Tribute Artist competition at the BancorpSouth Arena, featuring 18 performers vying to be the “Ultimate” – the overall winner that will represent Tupelo at Elvis Week in Memphis for Graceland’s annual event in August.

For others, live music at Fairpark – the site where Elvis returned to Tupelo for his 1956 Homecoming concert at the Mississippi/Alabama Fair and Dairy Show Fairgrounds – has featured legendary musicians like B.B. King as well as up-and-coming performers over the years. On Friday, Paul Thorn will headline the free event with performances from A.C. Freeman, Memphis Jones and Reed Turchi and his Kudzu Choir.

But the festival offers so much more. Find a complete schedule of events below.

For tickets or more information, visit TupeloElvisFestival.com.

Wednesday, June 5

Tupelo Amateur Radio Special Event – 2 p.m. at Tupelo Hardware

Elvis Tribute Artist Showcase Concert – 6 p.m. at Elvis Presley Birthplace (sold out)

Thursday, June 6

“Becoming” Experience – 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Elvis Presley Birthplace

Tupelo Amateur Radio Special Event – 2 p.m. at Tupelo Hardware

321 Concert hosted by Tom Brown – 6:30 p.m. at Fairpark

Friday, June 7

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, round one – 10 a.m. at BancorpSouth Arena

Tupelo Amateur Radio Special Event – 2 p.m. at Tupelo Hardware

Conversations with Tom Brown – 2 p.m. at Lyric Theater

Elvis concerts – 6 p.m. at BancorpSouth Arena

Paul Thorn and more, live in concert – 6:30 p.m. at Fairpark

Saturday, June 8

Running with the King – 7:30 a.m. at Veterans Park

Dilworth Pet Parade – 9 a.m. at BancorpSouth Arena

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, semi-finals – 10:30 a.m. at BancorpSouth Arena

Visit downtown with ETA headliners – 1 p.m.

Living history – 1 p.m. downtown

Tupelo Amateur Radio Special Event – 2 p.m. at Tupelo Hardware

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, finals and showcase – 6 p.m. at BancorpSouth Arena

Sunday, June 9

Gospel concert – 11 a.m. at Lyric Theatre

Tupelo Amateur Radio Special Event – 2 p.m. at Tupelo Hardware

derek.russell@journalinc.com Twitter: @wderekrussell

Features, arts and entertainment reporter for Daily Journal.

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