MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Greater Memphis Chamber will lead the international and economic development events that are part of the Memphis in May International Festival, beginning next year.
The Chamber made the announcement Friday morning, after MIM leaders agreed to a proposal by the Chamber.
“By combining our international expertise with Memphis in May’s iconic, globally recognized brand, I believe we will create an economic development opportunity for Memphis and the countries we honor that is truly unique to our region,” Chamber President & CEO Ted Townsend said in a news release.
The move was praised by Doug Browne, President of Peabody Hotels & Resorts, Chairman of the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Board of Directors, and Past Chair and current Board Officer of the Memphis in May Board of Directors.
“There’s massive upside to giving Memphis more international exposure,” he said.
The Chamber helped initiate the annual Memphis In May festival in 1976. The next year, MIM began the tradition of saluting a country. Japan was the first.
The international diplomacy aspect of the festival is separate from other public events during Memphis In May, including the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and Beale Street Music Festival.
Those events, which will still be managed by Memphis In May, may be moving out of their longtime home in Tom Lee Park in the near future, MIM leaders said in emails obtained by WREG. Next year’s festival is expected to be smaller, and in a new location.
The Memphis in May International Festival had a pre-pandemic economic impact of $149 million in 2019, and $72.9 million in 2022, the Chamber said. Numbers for 2023 have not been released.
Memphis In May is expected to announce 2024’s honored country next week.