All rock stars have fans, but only a few have cults. And the number who inspire intricate societies of professional impersonators and hoards of weeping fans to their homes 33 years after their death? There’s only one: Elvis Presley (although Michael Jackson may be next). Last weekend was the 11th annual Elvis Festival in Tupelo, Mississippi, and the King’s look-alike fanbase (pets and children included!) was in full effect. You had to see it to believe it, so we’ve posted an image gallery after the jump. You can thank us later.
Driving into Tupelo, it’s not hard to guess who the town’s favorite former resident is. The tiny one-room house Elvis was born in has become hallowed ground for Elvis fans, who travel there to buy Elvis toothbrushes and peek inside the Presley family’s outhouse. The festival is a three-day event, boasting a “Queen for the King” beauty pageant, a “Fling with the King” disc golf tournament, and a parade of pets in Elvis costumes. But the star attraction at this year’s festival was, of course, the Elvis tribute artist contest. On the Elvis impersonation circuit, the Tupelo contest is to the enormous King Week tournament in Memphis what the Screen Actor’s Guild awards are to the Oscars: those on the inside track use Tupelo to predict how well tribute artists will do in the big event. The pool winnowed down from 40 hopefuls to the grand winner in three grueling rounds of competition, and visitors from all over the Southeast — and even further — gathered to root for their favorites.
Click through the gallery to see some of our favorite moments from 2010’s Tupelo Elvis Festival: