Africa in April, Memphis in May events postponed due to COVID-19

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Three major events for the city of Memphis are being pushed back as ‘Safer at Home’ orders remain in place due to COVID-19.

Between April and May, the city’s schedule is packed with events like Africa in April, the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which generate millions for the city’s economy.

This week would have been the 34th year Africa in April took place at Robert R. Church Park near Beale Street.

“It’s been postponed because we’re following the dictates of our doctors and mayors and everyone with this virus going around. We want to have everybody safe. I still want to have it later this year. It’ll be ‘Africa in October,'” festival executive director Dr. David L. Acey said.

This year’s festival was set to honor the Republic of Botswana.

Acey said it is a major economic blow that not only hurts the city and vendors but the homeless, who make up the workforce behind setting up the festival.

“Everybody is just down and out when they come,” Acey said. “We pay them, we feed them and we have church on Sunday morning, a pastor comes and preach.”

Acey says its disappointing he won’t be able to help those in need during this time.

The pandemic has also pushed back two major events that are part of Memphis in May.

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest’is rescheduled for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3 and the Beale Street Music Festival will be Oct. 16 through Oct. 18.

Robert Griffin, Vice President of Memphis in May’s Marketing team, said ticket buyers have options.

“If you got a ticket for May, hang onto it. It’s still valid in October and if those dates don’t work for you and you’re interested in a refund, you can also defer those tickets to the next year.” Griffin said.

If the surge health officials are predicting causes restrictions to stay in place until the fall, Griffin says the festivals would probably be deferred until May of 2021 but did say those plans have not been finalized.

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