Southern Agenda

Hometown Hero

The two-room frame house near Tupelo where Elvis Presley was born in 1935, built with $180 of materials by Presley’s father, Vernon, is still standing. Seeing that birthplace museum, as well as the Assembly of God church where Presley first heard gospel music, is a no-brainer during the Tupelo Elvis Festival (June 7–10), which this year marks its twenty-fifth anniversary. Festivities begin with a Silver Jubilee Gala, where “fans come blinged out,” says Dalton Russell, a director at the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association. “They love to get bedazzled.” The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition ranks contestants on vocals, appearance, and stage presence—jumpsuits and sunglasses are well represented. Also-rans (and everyone else) may find comfort at Café 212, which serves Presley’s favorite sandwich—peanut butter, honey, and bananas with the option to add bacon—listed on the menu as the Blue Suede Grill.