With another Elvis Festival in the books, it’s an appropriate time to commend all of those whose hard work made it a success.

Elvis Festival is one of the most significant events on Tupelo’s annual calendar. Its impact is amplified by the fact that it attracts visitors from around the world to the All-America City to celebrate Mississippi’s most popular tourist attraction – Elvis Presley. That brings an influx of outside money from far-away guests eating in our restaurants and sleeping in our hotels. It also is an opportunity for Tupelo to make a strong impression to legions of Elvis fans, paving the way for follow-up visits.

Once again, this year’s festival did not disappoint. With public concerts, a pet parade, a running race, a workshop and youth competition, and even a Gospel brunch, there were numerous events to entertain our many guests.

The headliner is the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, which finals were held Saturday night at the BancorpSouth Arena. Taylor Rodriguez, a 21-year-old from Goode, Virginia, was named the winner despite being the youngest competitor in the field. Rodriguez won with his performance of “Polk Salad Annie,” and will advance to the international competition at Graceland.

Saturday’s events also included a re-enactment of a young Elvis Presley buying his first guitar at Tupelo Hardware in downtown Tupelo, an event that would change the world by setting into motion the birth of Rock-’n’-Roll.

We want to thank everyone whose dedicated efforts shaped this year’s festival. That begins with the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association and executive director Debbie Brangenberg. The staff begins planning the event long in advance and navigates an exhaustive to-do list of logistics and other details.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton has worked tirelessly to promote the event, both within the community and to a broader audience. Shelton recognizes the impact the festival has on the city and has been a strong advocate for its success.

Most importantly, we recognize the countless volunteers who worked behind the scenes to fill so many roles that were vital to the event. A festival of this magnitude requires an army of dedicated individuals, and Elvis Festival would not be possible without its unsung heroes, who willingly volunteered their time – even in inclement weather – to make it work.

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