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Afterwards, we make a swing down Main Street, which is packed with small stores. A rolling ladder allows the clerks access to the goods, both practical, like plumbing supplies, and impractical, like T-shirts.
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Harold Miller creates ceramic sculpture with deep, complex glazes. Returning to the car, we decide to take a moment in Fair Park, a broad greensward where kids play in a fountain, watched over by smiling parents.
I ask our server. There was no electricity? Two banks Bancorp South and Renasant are headquartered here.
We wander over to Crave, a small coffee shop with bare brick walls bursting with people getting ready for the Gum Tree Festival. At Golden Hour, we return to Fair Park, which is located on the site where Elvis played two momentous hometown shows. The 44th annual Gumtree arts festival is already crowded 15 minutes before it officially starts. As we leave the park, we encounter Kyle Chism and his bulldog Hercules. Sporting a Superman tattoo on his forearm, he leans easily on a hardwood cane with a compass embedded in the hilt.
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We roll into Tupelo about noon. It was an image I was sort of stuck on, because I knew my mother was in the crowd that day. The Brandon, Mississippi, native has been practicing his art for 25 years. He got fifth place in the youth category. It gets ahold of you, like a bug, a virus. Also ing up is DJ Black Caesar. A year ago this weekend, an F3 tornado ripped through the town, leaving a path of destruction in its wide wake. He tells us he has had six strokes, and wants to participate in the race as part of his recovery. Tupelo, a place with a deep history and resilient spirit, seems like a city on the rise.
This article appears in the June issue of Memphis Magazine. We wander the festival for more than an hour as the crowd grows ever larger.
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For the main course, I have a wood-grilled duck breast wrapped in bacon with smashed purple potatoes; fresh, hydroponically grown tomatoes; mixed vegetables, and house-made pork skins as a garnish. I started working with exotic dating, above and beyond the stuff a carpenter would use.
Clouds roll in, but the threatened rain never materializes. Over by city hall, an outdoor photography exhibit by Paul Caldwell commemorates a Tupelo tragedy. When he discovered his old house was for sale, Elvis convinced the city fathers to buy it and create a park Jackson kids from the poor side of Tupelo. Laura orders a tofu fried rice curry and spring roll from the lunch menu, while our server steers me towards the basil ground chicken.
We admire the spectacular Mississippi spring outside. The Tupelo Automobile Museum turns out to be the unexpected highlight of the trip. Inside the lobby are runners registering for the Gum Tree 10K race. Eleven years later, he would again play the fair, this time as a budding superstar. We ask to speak with the chef, but he is too busy gumtree orders in the kitchen, so we move on. I like it. Set in a nondescript neighborhood is a small, grassy park crowded with tourists from England and Japan. His life was half over at that point. Elvis was born here on January 8,in a house his father built on a plot of land that was a dairy pasture a few months before.
We return downtown to check into the Hilton Garden Inn, with its fresh new hotel smell. The crowd swells as athletes young and old cross the finish line. Both dishes are delicious, and out of character from the stereotypical Southern comfort food you would expect from a small town in North Mississippi.
We decide to lunch at Sao Thai, a pleasantly appointed restaurant away from downtown on Gloster Street. One clerk is answering Elvis questions from a Japanese couple at the register. Over bread pudding, Laura and I debate going out for some live music, but the cottonwood trees have been inflaming our allergies, and we have an early start in the morning, so we decide to turn in. People are friendly, and the positive vibe is contagious. Stuffed with an omelet, bacon, and grits, we walk to the downtown portion of the race where I am made to feel slovenly and inadequate by the runners who have covered six miles this morning.
My normally vegetarian companion is wooed by the organic, grass-fed beef and decides to try a petit New York strip.
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You have to keep putting your hands on the wood. After confusedly driving around trying to find an alternate route, we text our regrets and have breakfast at the hotel. I walk every day, so I thought, why not participate in this great event? A statue of him stands in the park, modeled after an iconic photograph of The King taken at his homecoming show on September 26, The statue was the brainchild of Tupelo native son turned Memphis underground filmmaker, Mike McCarthy.
Memphian Jonathan Coules is presenting his fine woodworking at the festival for the first time anywhere. With me is my wife, Laura Jean Hocking, serving as mission photographer. Our appetizer arrives: a long plate with feta cheese, pita bread, cured pork belly, house pickles, house celery slaw, Estes honeycomb, and gouda cheese.
Later, he co-founded pioneering telecom company MCI. Having done well in life, Spain was a classic car collector, and when he saw casino mogul William H. More than cars, dating back to the nineteenth century, are lined up chronologically in the ,square-foot museum.
Years later, his childhood friend Janelle McComb championed the creation of the museum here. Us! By Chris McCoy. Every day, something new opens up. The local photographers, like Cary Wood, were allowed onstage to take pictures, because they were trusted and known in town.
MMSA would like to thank all our fantastic investors without whose generous support none of this would be possible.