MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis in May International Festival that was postponed until September and October has been officially cancelled. The organization released the following statement Thursday morning.
“Due to the continuing threat of COVID 19, in the interest of public safety and under advice from local health authorities, the planned 2020 Memphis in May events scheduled for September 30 through October 23 are canceled.
The difficult decision was made based on information in consultation with local health officials who advised that it would not be reasonable to host festival events as planned in 2020. Our board of directors met this morning and voted to cancel the 2020 events. The health and safety of our patrons and participants is always our top priority.
We are disappointed that we are unable to reset for the fall as planned and that Memphis in May now joins the growing list of outdoor festivals and events that have been forced to cancel.
“The annual Memphis in May is an important part of the cultural fabric of our city, but this pandemic has impacted large scale public events worldwide and Memphis is no exception,” said James L. Holt, President & CEO of Memphis in May International Festival.
Restaurant owners already struggling because of COVID-19 are now worried about how this cancellation will affect their business.
Michael Patrick owns Rizzos on South Main in Downtown Memphis.
“We are going to keep our chin up and roll with the punches because they are coming,” he said.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants like Rizzos have suffered from a lack of business.
Patrick said everything is fine financially for now, but events like Memphis in May and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest would have helped big time.
“We’ve lost profits due to the COVID climate we are in and now that little glimmer that we saw, ok we have BBQ, Memphis in May in October is now not happening,” he said.
The organizers of Memphis in May decided it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel everything because of COVID-19. They are already planning how things will look next year.
“When we looked at social distancing if we could even do that the numbers doesn’t make sense,” said Randy Blevins, Vice President of Marketing & Programming for Memphis in May International Festival.
The Memphis in May events play a big role in the economy with $4.6 million in tax revenues and $149 million in economic impact on the community.
The economic impact would have helped restaurant owners, especially some who could really use the revenue.
“How much more can we take or how much longer will this go on?” Patrick asked.
Ticket holders, teams, and registrants will be offered a full refund or can opt to use their tickets or entries for the 2021 festival events. Participants will receive an email early next week with specific information for their ticket or registration and can also visit memphisinmay.org for details.
We are pressing pause this year, for the first time in over four decades, but we plan to be back next May bigger and better than ever! Mark your calendars now for the 45th anniversary of Memphis in May.
2021 Memphis in May International Festival
Beale Street Music Festival April 30 – May 2, 2021
Salute to Ghana May 1-31, 2021
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest May 12 – 15, 2021
Great American River Run May 29, 2021
Follow memphisinmay.org for updates and details on the 2021 Memphis in May International Festival. "
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