Memphis in May is an annual festival held in Memphis, Tennessee to celebrate the culture of the people of Memphis. The festival is aimed at promoting economic stability, boosting tourism and upgrading the status of life for those who live within the region. The festival comprises of several events including the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest which brings together thousands of chefs to contest in beef, pork and poultry recipes in an attempt to win cash awards and be named world champions in the industry.
The event was founded in the early 70s in a quest to promote a number of events that used to take place in Memphis including the Metropolitan Opera, Cotton Carnival and the Danny Thomas Golf Classic. Its original name was the Memphis in May International Festival Society, which was changed in the late 70s. Currently, it is not just an event, but a non-profit organization that is worth millions of dollars and which is recognized all over the world.
Memphis in May hosts participants of all states and countries during the contest, which is often covered by international media houses. The first ever contestant to win the competition was known as Bessie Louise Cathey. She walked away with a $500 cash price. Today the entry fee and award price for the contest go up to several thousands of dollars.
Also known as the Super Bowl of Swine, this outstanding event is well known for plenty of entertainment and fun that it offers. The dates and admission charges of the contest are often announced during the month of March. During the event, the Tom Lee Park is dolled up with several decors and trophies which are meant to encourage more teams to participate. Cooking is done using either charcoal or wood. Contests are divided into categories and some teams are also allowed to compete in other special events and activities such as t-shirt design, music contests, booth designs and cooker caravans which offer tours to willing teams.
The 2016 contest took place between May 12 and 14. It had over 200 competing teams, free food handouts as well as scenic views of the Mississippi river. There was also a 3-day startup session dubbed Start-Q which brought together investors and startup companies. The session attracted several participants from the southeast region, according to the Hulsey PC reporter. It created room for networking and business opportunities and included activities such craft cocktails and parties, as she explains.
The 2017 contest took place between May 16 and 20, and brought together over 250 teams which were competing for a cash prize of $117,000. Alabama’s renowned restaurant Big Bob Gibson was named the grand champion during the event. This was the restaurants 5th award in the contest.