Sure, you can skip to the end of that novel you’re reading. Or, you can fast-forward the movie to make sure there’s a happy ending. But you’d be missing out on all the magic in-between.
Nowhere espouses this idea as much as Tupelo, Mississippi. Here, locals fervently believe in the power of positivity in building better tomorrows: be it something small to brighten a friend’s day, lending a hand to a neighbor in need, or helping an up-and-coming artist on their journey. Locals know the past has shaped their town, but it’s the actions they take today that will define its future. And while they’re at it, maybe discovering the next big thing in music, food or art. Let’s take a look at what’s simmering beneath the surface in Tupelo.
The town’s claim to fame may be as the birthplace of Elvis Presley himself, but Tupelo locals don’t let that define them. Music courses through the town’s veins, and the people behind Tupelo’s music scene take pride in helping others succeed. Take Adam Morgan, owner of iconic venue The Blue Canoe, who champions regional musicians and guides their next steps in the industry. To him, it’s all about the journey, even if you fail. “You’re never going to know if you don’t try it,” he says. “Most success stories involve some sort of failure at some point, but every one of those successful people just kept pushing ‘til they got it right.”
The folks at the Blue Canoe live music venue have been supporting burgeoning talent for decades.
It’s this culture of innovation and support that drives the town's culinary heroes to experiment with new flavors. The crown of Tupelo’s food scene, the humble Blueberry Doughnut Bread Pudding, was the result of a collaboration between Blue Canoe and Connie's Fried Chicken. And it’s been named the Best Dessert in Mississippi by Mississippi Magazine three times. Or, if you’re more of a burger fan, the Neon Pig’s Smashburger was once named the best burger in America by Thrillist. Its legend starts with a blend of five different cuts of meat.
For Jeri Cater, The entrepreneur behind Queen’s Reward Meadery, Tupelo’s supportive nature helps her small business to thrive.
While other Southern towns may be home to their fair share of breweries and distilleries, Tupelo is the only place in Mississippi where you’d find a meadery. Though for owner Jeri Carter, this wasn’t necessarily her intention back when she was making mead at home for fun. “My mother always said “One day at a time,” and having that perspective takes a lot of pressure off!” She says. “We tend to feel like we have to have all the answers and know where we are going at any given time, but that is just not how life works.” Carter attributes her success to Tupelo's positivity and can-do attitude. "Tupelo is an amazingly supportive environment for small businesses. This encouragement is contagious, and when you get to participate in encouraging others, the positivity grows," she says.
Lauren McElwain knows this too. It’s this positivity that drove her to launch non-profit, Cooking as a First Language. “I’ve seen how powerful food can be for bringing people together,” she says. Together they try to break down cultural barriers and build community over cooking and sharing a meal. “We should all try new things because there is potential for new friendships and passions to grow. And even if you try something and it’s maybe not your favorite thing, it always makes for a great story later and a way to relate to others in conversations.”
The folks in Tupelo know it’s the act of taking a chance on something new that can create a brighter tomorrow. It’s this spirit which underpins Tupelo and its community. While you’re here, it’s impossible not to feel the love and entrepreneurial spirit shared by the community. And that’s just one of the reasons that Tupelo is where tomorrows are made.