This is the last “normal” weekend Downtown before we go festival crazy. There wasn’t much happening Downtown this weekend, and a lot of folks Lyfted/Ubered out to the Overton Square crawfish fest. Next weekend, however, there will be plenty to choose from. Here’s a look:
Downtown Olympics: This is a fundraiser for the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry, a wonderful organization that helps feed the hungry. They make delicious burritos and other nutritious foods, then ride around Downtown and Midtown handing them out. They don’t judge the people they come in contact with, they don’t ask “how did you end up on the street?”… their only question is “Are you hungry?”
This is not your typical fundraiser, though. If you are thinking a black-tie event at the Cadre building with coverage in the society pages, you don’t understand Downtowners. Downtown Olympics (often abbreviated DTO), happening Saturday, April 16 from 10 AM to 5 PM in Double J’s parking lot, has teams of four, dressed in self-designed uniforms, competing in five events. The day kicks off with a beer relay, followed by cornhole, beer pong, tricycle races (wheels can be no bigger than 16″), and the penultimate event, synchronized drinking. There is beer, beer, beer, Fireball, beer, more beer, and more Fireball consumed throughout the day. The later events in the day are the most fun to watch because team members can barely stand up straight by that point, much less ride a tricycle or drink in unison with teammates. This is a must-watch and I will be there all day taking photos. Only Wine Race and BBQ Fest later in the spring calendar bring the shitshow more than DTO does.
Memphis Brewfest: This is a beer festival at AutoZone Park from 4:00 to 7:30 on Saturday, April 16. Buy tickets here ($47 general admission or $100 VIP). This is a fundraiser for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. It will be in the courtyard of AutoZone Park, or moved to the concourse underneath the seats in the case of rain. You get a souvenir sampling glass and can take it to numerous tasting stations to sample different beers. Although some of the beers are commonly sold in Memphis, many are not. This is a great opportunity to get educated about different types of beer. It’s also a great opportunity to get hammered! Food will be available for purchase if you get hungry, and there will be live entertainment by Red Letter Day.
Memphis Flyer Bacon & Bourbon Festival: If you haven’t bought tickets to this yet, you’re out of luck: They sold out last week. This will be held in The Memphis Farmers Market pavilion from 6 to 9 PM Saturday, April 16. There will be bacon-inspired dishes by Memphis chefs, as well as plenty of spirits to sample. There will be music from Papa Top’s West Coast Turnaround, as well as cigar rolling from BeLeaf Cigar Company.
I’ve been looking at the Facebook event listing for Downtown Olympics and this festival, and there are plenty of people listed as attending both. Even for experienced Downtowners who know how to hold their alcohol, these two events back-to-back are going to be quite a challenge. I’m guessing Uber will be jacking their prices to premium rates Saturday night, because all these events will keep them busy for sure. If you attend both DTO and the bacon/bourbon fest, better take Monday as a vacation day because the two-day hangover will probably happen.
Harbor Town Crawfish Fest: Yes, ANOTHER festival happening Saturday. This one is on Mud Island, on the parking lot of Movie and Pizza Company. This is by far the tamest of the Saturday festivals. If Overton Square Crawfish Fest and Rajun Cajun get too crowded for your taste, this might be more your speed. It happens from noon to 7 Saturday, and benefits the Mid-South Food Bank. $5 or two canned goods to get in. Live music by Gerry Finney.
Rajun Cajun Crawfish Fest: This event happens Sunday, April 17, noon to 6, on the river between Union and Beale. Of all of Memphis’ spring crawfish festivals, this is the largest and the best one. They sell buckets of crawfish – price uncertain but last year they were $20. There are plenty of other dining options too, including boiled shrimp, classic carnival fare (“It looks like fries! But it’s CHICKEN!”), as well as some of Memphis’ best food trucks. There will be live zydeco music, crawfish races for the children, and the always entertaining crawfish bobbing. No kidding, contestants put their hands behind their back, stick their face in a tub full of live crawfish, and pull out as many as they can with their teeth before time expires. Although the bobbing is a much-loved event to most, there is one group who don’t care for it: the crawfish. They fight back with their pincers and you could end up seeing more blood at this event than at Wrestlemania. Well, it’s not that bad, but the mudbugs do get their shots in. This is one of my favorite festivals and the tube top watching is excellent when the weather is warm. I definitely plan on being there, after an hour of pre-gaming at D-RANKS with B-RAD at the Blind Bear at 11.
My 2016 perfect attendance streak at the Memphis Farmers Market has been broken in only the second week. We installed a new server at work Friday night and we had to test all our code Saturday morning. Unfortunately applying the security settings took longer than expected and I wasn’t able to get out until about 2:30. I will be back at MFM next Saturday for a very brief visit, picking up some food from Rock’n Dough or the tandoori truck to eat as I walk over to DTO.
It’s kinda funny… when I posted that I was late getting out because I was testing a new server, I failed to take into account that I have far more friends in the service industry than in IT. “What is he doing?” the folks at the Blind Bear speculated in my absence. “Did they hire Paul to train new Saucer girls?”
The Redbirds play an early game today at 2:05 (gates 1:00) vs. the Colorado Sky Sox. It’s a good day to bring the kids – the first 2500 fans 12 and under get a free ice cream treat, and kids can run the bases after the game. PRO TIP: If your kid is 13 or 14 and has not had his or her growth spurt yet, they can probably lie about their age and still get the ice cream. Who cards kids, after all?
Geez… I’m encouraging lying… fostering the next generation of Trumps/Hillarys on my blog today.
Historian Jimmy Ogle leads a free walking tour of the riverside today at 2. Meet at Chickasaw Heritage Park next to the Metal Museum (take exit 12C off I-55… or miss the exit and get a self-conducted tour of Arkansas, whatever you choose). On the tour, Jimmy will lead guests to Crump Park, with lots of river history along the way.
The 901 Heavy Hitters play Alfred’s tonight at 8.
Sunday Fun Day time. I’m leading off at D-RANKS with B-RAD as usual at 11, but you never ever know where else I might pop up. Back tomorrow with more news.