MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Stormy weather that was predicted to move into the Mid-South Friday afternoon has impacted Memphis in May’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
The festival was temporarily evacuated due to strong thunderstorms, and admission was suspended out of “an abundance of caution.”
Barbeque team member Chris Culver told WREG he wasn’t going anywhere. He claims officers told him one team member could stay behind unless there was a tornado watch or warning.
“I wasn’t about to leave several thousand dollars worth of meat and our chances for the competition, let all of that ruin because of a little rain and thunderstorm,” he said.
Dominique Loretan, a visitor from Switzerland, showed up to find closed gates.
“It’s our first day in Memphis,” she said. “Everybody said we should go check it out and we came and it started raining.”
The festival was closed for nearly two hours as storms moved through the Memphis area. Memphis in May issued an “all-clear” at 3:45 p.m. and said the festival would resume as normal.
Earlier Friday, Memphis in May issued a weather advisory stating the festival could be evacuated due to weather.
“It may be necessary to temporarily suspend entry into the event as well as event activity for a period during lunchtime and early afternoon to ensure public safety, as lightning and thunderstorm activity is expected,” the advisory reads.
Memphis in May says the festival has an onsite meteorologist to “closely monitor developing weather with patron safety top of mind.”
The WREG Weather Experts are predicting a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight. While severe weather wasn’t expected, the WREG Weather Experts did not rule thunder and some small hail.
Friday was also another hot and humid day, with a high temperature of 85 degrees.