VOL. 132 | NO. 160 | Monday, August 14, 2017
MIM Posts Surplus in ‘Electrifying’ 2017 Festival
BILL DRIES & K. DENISE JENNINGS
At the end of her year-long tenure as chairwoman of the board of the Memphis In May International Festival, Bobbi Gillis summed up the 2017 festival as “a fast moving roller coaster ride.” Rain wasn’t a problem for the month-long set of events. But lightning and straight-line winds were. MIM president and CEO Jim Holt could joke Thursday, Aug. 10, at the organization’s annual meeting that the festival was “electrifying.”
Tom Lee Park had to be evacuated during the barbecue contest because of nearby lightning strikes, only the third time that has happened in the 41-year history of the festival.
That was followed by the Tom Lee Storm during the Memorial Day weekend as the park was hosting 901Fest. The storm got its name because the sudden onset of straight-line winds at the front of the storm toppled the 1950s-era Tom Lee stone pillar in the park.
The winds destroyed almost all of the festival’s infrastructure in the park. But the Great American River Run event was only delayed by an hour in the recovery effort.
“The weather had a significant impact,” Holt said at the Memphis Botanic Garden gathering on Thursday evening. The box office was another story.
The 2017 events honoring Colombia posted a $278,000 surplus, according to financial statements released at the meeting. Visitors came from all 50 states and 14 countries, with 63 percent of visitors coming from more than 200 miles away.
The 2017 festival brought in $9.9 million in revenues against $9.7 million in expenses. That compares to a $329,689 loss for the 2016 festival and a $493,225 surplus in 2015.
Memphis In May’s biggest event in terms of expense, revenue and attendance – the Beale Street Music Festival, held on the month’s opening weekend – grossed $3.7 million, a festival record and a 19 percent increase from 2016.
The net occupancy rate at Memphis hotels for the music festival was 92.5 percent, MIM officials revealed.
Holt said an economic impact study on Memphis In May will be released in a few weeks and will show the impact exceeds the $88 million impact reported from the 2016 festival.
A highlight of her tenure, Gillis said, was leading 45 people on an eight-day visit to Columbia in the spring, including Memphis student ambassadors. She only thought she knew how important MIM was to the city before serving as chairwoman.
“I have fallen in love with our volunteers who work their hearts out for the love of the festival and the love of this city,” she said.
The Czech Republic will be the honored country for the 2018 Memphis In May International Festival. And Kristen Wright, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of AutoZone Inc., is the new MIM chairwoman.
The Czech Republic boasts 2,000 castles in a geographical area the size of South Carolina. It is the 12th European nation to be honored by MIM.
The dates for the 2018 events are: Beale Street Music Festival May 4-6; International Week May 7-13; World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest May 16-19; and 901Fest & Great American River Run May 26.
Kristen Wright, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of AutoZone Inc., is the new Memphis In May International Festival chairwoman. (Daily News/K. Denise Jennings)
A list of volunteer award winners from the 2017 Memphis in May International Festival and new board members for 2018, as well as a video about the 2018 honored nation, will be available at www.memphisinmay.org on Friday, Aug. 11.