Memphis in May officials are planning ahead for 2021 with safety being the top priority


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis in May, the Mid-South’s largest festival, was hit with a significant financial loss causing some to question the festival’s future.

Officials said they are planning to have Memphis in May in 2021, but safety is going to be the top priority.

Randy Blevins, the vice president of marketing and programming for Memphis in May, said they are willing to do whatever that is necessary to ensure the event goes on next year.

“Whatever adjustments need to happen, we’re going to put those in place,” Blevins said.

Blevins said plans are already in motion to move forward with Memphis in May in 2021, despite seeing a loss of $1.7 million after cancelling the festival this year.

Blevins said right now they are focusing on making sure they are financially able to continue the 40-year Memphis tradition.

“We had to furlough our full-time staff,” Blevins said. “We basically hunkered down so we could put ourselves in a proper fiscal position financially to mount a really great festival in May.”

But the decision to have the festival in May is not just relying on the pandemic, but the renovation project expected to take place at Tom Lee Park sometime next year. Blevins said, according to city officials, if they do have a festival next year, it will be at Tom Lee Park.

Memphis in May will be back in Tom Lee Park in 2021; riverfront group to present new plans for renovations

However, the festival will have to move the following year while the park is under construction.
Blevins said they have considered several temporary locations such as downtown, the fairgrounds, and even Mud Island.

Mud Island has problems as a potential site, he said.

“Mud Island is in a state of disrepair that would need to be brought up to speed before you could invite tens of thousands of guests onto the venue site. It’s just problematic,” Blevins said.

Blevins said nothing is set in stone for the temporary location. He said right now, they are just taking it one day at a time. Additionally, he said though they plan on having a festival next year, they will not have one if it is deemed too unsafe to have one.

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