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

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis in May festival organizers say they’ll be back on the city’s riverfront next year, after a planned renovation threatened to move the festival temporarily.

“We are excited to be able confirm that our events in 2021 will take place along the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Memphis as they have for over four decades,” said James L. Holt, president and CEO of Memphis in May.

A planned renovation of Tom Lee Park was supposed to move Memphis in May to a temporary location to accommodate construction in 2021.

But festival organizers said they received word that any development planned by the Memphis River Parks Partnership would be off park grounds, meaning the festival could return to Tom Lee Park.

MRPP has been planning to redevelop Tom Lee Park for some time, and is set to unveil its newest plan for the city’s riverfront Wednesday. The new details were not available Tuesday.

The redesign concept for the park had led to threats that Memphis in May’s signature events including the Beale Street Music Festival might have to permanently move off the river, but the two parties reached an agreement last year keeping the festival in the park, except for 2021.

Memphis in May events for 2020 were postponed by the shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic. That is unrelated to the news about 2021’s festival events.

The 2020 events are now scheduled to take place in Tom Lee Park on the following dates: World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2020; Beale Street Music Festival, Oct. 16-18, 2020; Great American River Run, Oct. 24, 2020.

Dates for the 45th Annual Edition of the Memphis in May International Festival in 2021 are as follows: Beale Street Music Festival, April 30-May 2, 2021; World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest May 12-15, 2021 and Great American River Run, May 29, 2021.

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