MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officials with the Memphis in May International Festival say this year’s festival marked the lowest attendance the festival has seen in decades.
For the first time in more than 20 years, combined attendance for the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest reportedly fell below 115,000.
The organization says 175,330 people attended in 2019, and 178,478 attended in 2018.
The organization is expecting a record-setting loss of $1.9 million from this year’s operations. In 2020, the organization lost $1.8 million when the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to completely cancel the festival.
Memphis in May says moving the festival from Tom Lee Park to the Fairgrounds at Liberty Park contributed to the steep drop in attendance.
“Our fans were pleased we presented the full-scale festival in 2022, for the first time in three years.” President & CEO James L. Holt said in a statement released Thursday. “We knew we would experience a significant decline in attendance because of our displacement from Tom Lee Park. The ongoing COVID pandemic, inflationary environment, and artist cancelations at Beale Street Music Festival also partially contributed to the decline in attendance.”
Despite the big decline in attendance, Memphis in May says the festival still gave the local hotel industry a much-needed boost. City-wide hotel/motel occupancy reportedly peaked at 88.8%, and average daily roommate rates topped $268.