VOL. 133 | NO. 158 | Friday, August 10, 2018
2019 Memphis In May Festival to Honor City's Bicentennial
By Bill Dries
For the first time in its 42-year history, the month-long Memphis in May International Festival will depart in 2019 from its tradition of honoring a country and promoting trade ties with that country.
The 2019 Memphis In May festival will instead honor the city of Memphis as well as Shelby County in 2019 on the 200th anniversary of the city’s founding.
May 22, 1819 is the date historian James Roper sets as the founding of Memphis in his definitive 1969 book “The Founding of Memphis.” It is also the date other formal city events marking the bicentennial will focus on.
Festival organizers announced Thursday, Aug 9, the departure and an end of festival event on May 25 called “Celebrate Memphis” that will honor the city’s heritage and history.
“As the official festival of the city of Memphis, our board of directors understood what an historic opportunity this was for Memphis in May to break from tradition and celebrate a new century for Memphis,” MIM president and CEO Jim Holt said at the announcement Thursday.
Also at the announcement, archimania principal and co partner Barry Yoakum was announced as the board chairman for the 2019 festival. And Charles Ewing, president and CEO of Ewing Moving and Storage, is the chairman elect.
The honored country tradition goes back to the business origins of the festival in the mid 1970s when its primary intent was to promote trade ties with foreign countries starting with Japan as Sharp Corp., of Japan, opened a plant in what was then unincorporated Shelby County.
Meanwhile, the 2018 festival honoring the Czech Republic brought in $10.9 million in revenue for the month, a 12 percent increase from 2017 and a record.
The Beale Street Music Festival on the opening weekend had $4.5 million in ticket sales with 102,507 people attending the three days of the music festival.
The music festival was the biggest contributor to Memphis in May’s surplus over expense of more than $523,000.
For the 2019 festival, the Beale Street Music Festival is May 3-5, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is May 15-18, The Great American River Run is May 25 and later that same day is Celebrate Memphis.