There’s an empty throne this year at the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ in Branson, Missouri. Do you have the chops to take a seat as the King?
The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, March 28, 2015 at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, is the highlight every year of the Branson Elvis Festival, this year March 26-28. This may be one of the premier Branson, Missouri shows all year, but it’s also a qualifying event for a major international competition. sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises, the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, also called the Ultimate ETA Contest, culminates each August with semifinals and finals that are among Elvis Week activities at Graceland. The winner of the Branson Elvis Festival advances to Memphis to the famed Presley estate in Memphis to compete against qualifying contest winners from across the United States as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and even Japan.
The competition at Branson promises to be wide open, especially in the absence of two-time champion David Lee, who won’t be, as they say, in the building. The 2013 and 2014 winner at Branson has no need to enter the Missouri event in 2015, as he’s already earned his spot at in the 2015 semifinals. Lee already won a qualifying competition—in the Ocean City Elvis Festival at Ocean City, Maryland.
- You’ll be judged on how closely you emulate the King of Rock ’n’ Roll in look, costume and stage presence as well as voice.
- The entry fee is $100.
- You’ll be competing against seasoned professional Elvis Tribute Artists—ETAs for short.
Many of the artists, like David Lee, even have their own websites. Here are notes from the Alabama native’s bio page:
Lee has performed Elvis tributes across North America, from Canada to Mexico, since 1995, and sung on cruise ships as well. He was the Canadian grand champion in 2001 and 2004, voted the People’s Choice winner in 2004 and was a world champion in 2004.
A brick at the base of a famous statue in Presley’s birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi, bears Lee’s name—his reward for winning the annual Elvis Festival there. He also was the first performer to take the stage at a new auditorium in Tupelo. Additionally in Tupelo, “David Lee” appears alongside names of other music and entertainment VIPs, including Presley’s, on a giant metal guitar outside the Silver Moon Club.
What’s more, in 2014, Lee won the Gospel division at the world’s largest competition, the Collingwood Elvis Festival in Ontario, Canada, and he became the first performer ever in the Lake George, New York, festival to win three divisions as well as the overall title. And on and on.
True, you won’t have to compete against David Lee if you enter the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest at the Branson Elvis Festival. But you’ll go up against others like him. So unless you’re a pro or highly accomplished amateur tribute artist yourself, maybe on second thought you’d rather keep the $100 entry fee in your pocket. Or maybe spend about a third of it on a ticket to watch the ETAs go at it. You can order tickets in advance by calling 417.339.3003.
But if you really want to sing, there’s still an event at the Branson Elvis Festival just for you. You can stick around Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater after the regular Legends in Concert show on Friday and Ultimate competition on Saturday for an Elvis karaoke contest.
It’s one of several Elvis-related events in Branson over those three days. They include an Elvis Meet and Greet Dinner with the Ultimate contestants, competitions for youth Elvis Tribute Artists and the popular Hound Dog contest for four-legged Elvis fans.
The resident shows at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater continue daily even during the festival—and of course the nightly lineup includes a tribute to Elvis, as does every show there year-round. The other celebrity tribute portrayals scheduled that weekend include Kenny Chesney, Bette Midler, Lionel Richie and Ann-Margret.
There are plenty of Branson, Missouri shows to see when you visit and plenty of other things to do there as well. But if you have just a hunk a hunk of burning love for Elvis, there’s no better time to vacation in Branson, Missouri, than during the Branson Elvis Festival.