The King returns: Short video recreates the day Elvis came to Lexington, promotes upcoming Tribute Festival

·5 min read
With bodyguards surrounding him. Elvis, played by Tim LeBeau,  shakes hands with Davidson County Commissioner Steve Shell Tuesday night as he walks into Red Donut Shop. The short video will be used to promote the Tribute Festival to the King happening in Lexington April 29-May1.
With bodyguards surrounding him. Elvis, played by Tim LeBeau, shakes hands with Davidson County Commissioner Steve Shell Tuesday night as he walks into Red Donut Shop. The short video will be used to promote the Tribute Festival to the King happening in Lexington April 29-May1.

No, you are not imagining things if you thought you saw Elvis in Lexington Tuesday traveling with a police and sheriff escort from the J. Smith Young YMCA to Red Donut Shop. It happened.

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A group of Davidson County businessmen, government officials and residents got together for a hunka, hunka fun and creative time, filming a video that they will use to promote North Carolina's first and only Tribute Festival to the King happening in Lexington April 29-May1.

Saro Vay, owner of Red Donut Shop, and Tim LeBeau, a gospel singer and former Elvis Tribute artist, came up with the idea for the video and enlisted the help of many community members, including Landon Grant with LG Productions. Vay said he will post the video on his business' social media pages, as well as The Lexington Tourism Authority's social media pages. LTA is sponsoring the Tribute Festival.

"It's the king of rock 'n' roll meets the king of donuts," Vay said with a laugh.

On Tuesday evening, a crowd of about 70 "fans" and county officials gathered outside Red Donut Shop awaiting the arrival of Elvis and to be a part of the short film reenactment of the day — March 21, 1956 — that Elvis really did come to Lexington and perform at the J. Smith YMCA. But instead of traveling from the Y after the show to the then-new Lexington Hotel which was located on the second floor above Red Donut Shop and its next-door neighbor, 2nd & Main Bar, Elvis, played by LeBeau went inside the donut shop to meet Vay and his staff.

Commissioners Steve Shell and Chris Elliott, along with Judge Rosiland Baker, were among the county officials on hand to greet Elvis this time as he walked down a red carpet into Red Donut Shop. The crowd got into it, yelling and screaming Elvis's name as he exited a shiny, black Suburban with a throng of bodyguards surrounding him. Blue lights flashed on the Lexington Police Department cars and Davidson County Sheriff's motorcycle escort.

Elvis, played by Tim LeBeau, walks into Red Donut Shop during filming to reenact the King of Rock 'N' Roll's 1956 performance in Lexington. Virginia Weisner, (standing to the right behind a chair) was at the 1956 concert to see the real Elvis perform. She was only 16.
Elvis, played by Tim LeBeau, walks into Red Donut Shop during filming to reenact the King of Rock 'N' Roll's 1956 performance in Lexington. Virginia Weisner, (standing to the right behind a chair) was at the 1956 concert to see the real Elvis perform. She was only 16.

But for one member in the crowd, this wasn't her first time seeing Elvis in Lexington. In fact, Virginia Weisner, now 82, was only 16 when she saw the real King of Rock 'N' Roll stroll into Lexington and totally captivate a standing room only crowd of mostly teenagers waiting to see the blue-eyed, black-haired heartthrob perform.

"He was sort of unknown at the time, but we kids knew who he was," she said. "Everybody was so excited. Everybody went crazy."

Weisner, who lives in the Reedy Creek community now, said she doesn't remember if he swiveled his hips during the Lexington performance because she was too busy staring at his face. The 21-year-old Elvis would become the ideal dreamboat man for years to come with women across the world.

"We had never seen anything like him in Lexington," she recalled. "It was a once in a lifetime thing."

She added that it was fun to be part of the reenactment of the day Elvis came to Lexington and watch LeBeau play Elvis as a way to promote the Tribute Festival to the King Festival. She hopes to get to go to some of the festival performances.

The Lexington festival is a gateway contest for the annual national Elvis tribute artist competition scheduled for Memphis, Tenn., later this year. The Memphis winner takes home $25,000 and other prizes.

Vay and LeBeau, a frequent customer at the donut shop were talking about Vay's recent purchase of the second floor former Lexington Hotel space one day and LeBeau asked if Vay knew the history of Elvis staying at the hotel.

"That's when it clicked to make this short film," Vay said. "But this time instead of Elvis coming to the Lexington Hotel, he would be coming to meet the Donut King — so Elvis, the King of Rock 'N' Roll meets the Donut King."

Elvis, played by Tim LeBeau, and known as the King of Rock 'N' Roll meets the King of Donuts, Saro Vay, owner of Red Donut Shop. The meeting was part of a reenactment filmed Tuesday evening of the day Elvis came to Lexington in 1956 to perform at the YMCA.
Elvis, played by Tim LeBeau, and known as the King of Rock 'N' Roll meets the King of Donuts, Saro Vay, owner of Red Donut Shop. The meeting was part of a reenactment filmed Tuesday evening of the day Elvis came to Lexington in 1956 to perform at the YMCA.

LeBeau agreed to bring his Elvis costumes out of retirement to play the King in the short video.

"I told Tim, 'This is your time. You can't let those other tribute artists come here and be Elvis," Vay said. "You need to do this."

"I really want this to be a promotion not just for the Elvis Festival, but for Lexington," added LeBeau.

Morgan Brookshire, the executive director of the Lexington Tourism Authority, was elated when she heard earlier this year about Vay and LeBeau's plans for the short film.

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"It made my heart so happy," she said. "There has been so much support for the event and Saro has taken it to a whole new level. When I heard that Tim was our local ETA and going to be a part of this film it made it even more special."

The Elvis Tribute Festival is broken into two parts. During the day, the ETAs will compete before a judged panel. The second portion will feature four leading ETAs performing at night

Lexington resident Penny Canady plays the part of an excited Elvis fan during the filming of a video Tuesday reenacting the day Elvis performed in Lexington in 1956 at the YMCA. The film will be used to promote the Tribute to the King Festival happening in Lexington April 29-May 1.
Lexington resident Penny Canady plays the part of an excited Elvis fan during the filming of a video Tuesday reenacting the day Elvis performed in Lexington in 1956 at the YMCA. The film will be used to promote the Tribute to the King Festival happening in Lexington April 29-May 1.

The four ETAs are Travis Powell, Taylor Rodriguez, Bill Cherry and Austin Irby, and they have all won previous ETA festivals. The judged performances and general public performances will all take place at the Edward C. Smith Center at 217 S. Main St.

Tickets are available for individual events or all-access passes from a link on the VisitLexingtonNC.com website. Depending on how close your reserved seat is to the stage, single event tickets range in price from $20-$60 and all-access passes range from $90-$200.

Your tickets will also get you into VIP after-hours parties on Friday and Saturday nights from 10-midnight at Bull City Ciderworks, in the Historic Depot District.

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- Jill Doss-Raines is The Dispatch trending topics and personality profiles senior reporter and is always looking for tips about businesses and entertainment events, secret and new menu items, and interesting people in Davidson County. Contact me at jill.doss-raines@the-dispatch.com and subscribe to us at the-dispatch.com.

This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: Davidson County locals film video to recreate local 1956 Elvis concert in Lexington, promote upcoming Tribute Festival