In February of 2020, a teammate who competed in many more of Memphis in May’s BBQ Fests than I had told me, “Paul, this is going to be the last BBQ Fest as we’ve known it – the last fun, normal, not over-the-top-corporate BBQ Fest.” (He didn’t know COVID was right around the corner, and that 2019 would actually be the last “normal” BBQ Fest.)
“They’re redesigning Tom Lee Park, adding in all kinds of trees and hills and features that take up space,” he continued. “So there will be less room for BBQ teams to compete. Yet Memphis in May’s operating expenses will be at least the same, or more likely, higher.”
“Memphis in May will have no choice but to pass on those operating costs to team members,” my teammate said. “The teams that have avoided recruiting large, presenting, corporate sponsors will have no choice but to go find one.”
A quick explainer about large, “presenting” corporate sponsors: They give a sizable amount (usually $7500 or more) to a BBQ team. Deals vary from team to team, but generally, in return, they get a “sponsor night,” a night when they can invite their employees and clients to come to the river and enjoy some BBQ and drinks. BBQ team members cook for and serve the corporate sponsor, and team members usually are not allowed to bring guests of their own that night. Sponsor Night is usually done on Thursday, considered by many (myself included) the best night of BBQ Fest.
The team I was on in 2012-2019 managed to dodge having a night where we waited on a large, presenting sponsor hand and foot. We did this by working with awesome companies who wanted to party with us, not order us around – WordPress in 2012-2013, and Start Co. in 2014. Starting in 2015, we found ways to structure team dues and expenses so that we could get by without a presenting sponsor.
Jim Holt, President and CEO of Memphis in May, said at a dinner for board members and volunteers that the festival is negotiating a new lease for Tom Lee Park. He expects that the non-refundable damage deposit each team will be required to pay will rise from $300 to $7900. No I did not type an extra zero. SEVENTY-NINE HUNDRED.
And that’s just ONE of the many, many, many expenses teams have to pay. Holt said the number of competing teams will have to be reduced from about 230 to 150. Probably most Memphis-in-May-related team expenses will go up by 50% or more to make up for having fewer teams to charge.
On the plus side, Holt, as well as Mayor Strickland, seems committed to having BBQ Fest, as well as Music Fest, on the river rather than Tiger Lane. Read more of what Holt had to say:
Music Fest, by the way, will lose the Blues Tent due to space limitations. That is such a shame. That tent kept the festival connected to Memphis’ musical roots.
On to the news. Apologies, by the way, for no post yesterday. I had to run down the street and have a conversation mid-morning.
New Wing Order is hiring a line cook for its restaurant inside the Ghost River taproom on Beale. The position is part-time with the potential to become full-time.
The DM’s Chris Herrington has a look at the biscuits and other fare at Kinfolk, the restaurant inside Comeback Coffee at 356 N. Main.
MLGW will reopen its Downtown lobby on October 3.
Don’t forget that tonight is Trolley Night! On the last Friday of every month, the shops of South Main stay open until 9 or later, many of them serving up appetizers, drinks, and special deals.
Tonight is also the Yadier Molina bobblehead giveaway at the Redbirds. Be one of the first 1500 in the park to get one. FIrst pitch vs. Charlotte is at 7:05.
There’s also a specialty ticket to tonight’s Redbirds game that gets you a buffet of all-you-can-eat wings with BBQ, Buffalo, and ranch dressing, celery, carrots, hot dogs, chips, soda, and water.
The Musical History of Royal Studios, narrated by Boo Mitchell, is at the Halloran Centre tonight. Tickets are $37.50.
CrossFit Hit and Run at 574 S. Main will host a free Community Workout this Saturday at 10 AM.
30 cars were broken into at the Riverset apartment complex on Mud Island.
Fox 13 and ABC 24 webmasters: Are y’all having some kind of competition to see whose website has the most annoying pop-up ads?
Black Cream will play Wiseacre Downtown tonight from 6:30 to 9:00 as part of the brewery’s 9th birthday celebration.
A suspect has been caught on camera running from the scene of a shooting at Front and Huling just before 1 AM Sunday.
Charges have been filed in the shooting of a woman in the 600 block of Madison earlier this month.
Let’s have a look at all the college football games being played tomorrow that are of interest locally:
Seriously, the slate of about 12 games is all nobody vs. nobody or Power Five vs. cream puff. You’ll have to wait until next Thursday to find anything worth watching.
That’s it for now. I’ve got several things to catch up on before I get out early- to mid-afternoon. Back tomorrow.