Memphis in May announces break from tradition, will honor Memphis in 2019

Beale Street at night

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  Memphis in May will be making some noticeable changes in 2019.

During a meeting Thursday night, organizers for the annual event announced that instead of honoring a country, Memphis in May will actually showcase the City of Memphis and Shelby County next year.

The festivities will be held as Memphis celebrates in bicentennial.

“As the Official Festival of the City of Memphis, our board of directors understood what an historic opportunity this was for Memphis in May to break from tradition and celebrate a new century for Memphis,” said James L. Holt, president and CEO of Memphis in May. “Each year we celebrate the rich history and culture of another country here in Memphis, but this year we look forward to celebrating the history and culture of our hometown as only Memphis in May can.”

The month-long festivities will even culminate with a new event called Celebrate Memphis. Organizers said it will celebrate all things Memphis including the food, music and people that make it special.

That event will be held on Saturday, May 25.

Another aspect of the festival that’s getting an overhaul is the selection of the commemorative poster. Once again the festival will be asking for local artists to submit their designs for the contest, but instead of simply picking their favorite, organizers said the public will also be providing input.

A panel, which will include votes from the general public, will determine the finalists and the winning design.

2018: A record-setting year

During Thursday night’s meeting, festival organizers also announced a record-setting year for the event.

In 2018, the festival made nearly $11 million, a 12 percent increase over 2017.

But even more astonishing is how much the local economy benefited from the event.  Last year, the festival brought in a whopping $137.7 million to the Memphis economy. By comparison, in 2017 that number was just under $112 million.

More than 102,000 people also bought tickets to the Beale Street Music Festival.

The 2019 festival dates:

Beale Street Music Festival: May 3 – 5, 2019
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest: May 15 – 18, 2019
Great American River Run: May 25, 2019
Celebrate Memphis: May 25, 2019