Memphis in May International

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2020 May Newsletter
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Message from the President

For 44 years the Memphis in May International Festival has brought the city of Memphis to life in Tom Lee Park each spring uniting our citizens and visitors from across the country and around the world celebrating the best of our great city. We are saddened that for the first time in over four decades, we cannot do so this year, particularly with the glorious May weather this past weekend, and the forecast for the remainder of the month of May. (Wouldn't you know it!)

Rest assured we will be back, just a bit later than usual. We are already making plans for a fall edition of Memphis in May this October, and we plan to make the fall events better than ever!

Please know that while celebrating the best music, food and fun on the planet is our goal, safety and security is our number one priority. To all our fans, patrons, volunteers, sponsors, teams, vendors, runners, support staff, judges, concessionaires and supporters – stay safe – we look forward to the prospect of making more cherished memories with you down on the river in October.


Beale Street Music Festival October Lineup

Good news for #BSMF20 ticket holders: Eighty-five percent of the 60+ artists announced in early February will return! We will add several exciting additions to the lineup next month too. For those who missed it, the 44th anniversary of the Beale Street Music Festival will take place October 16-18 in Tom Lee Park and tickets are on sale.
2020 GARR

2020 Great American River Run Fall Date 

Cool weather runners rejoice! The 2020 Great American River Run is moving to Saturday, October 24 in downtown Memphis. All your favorite aspects of the race – MASSIVE post-race party, beautiful finisher’s medal, spectacular riverfront race course – are staying the same. We anticipate great weather for the inaugural 10K, or you can join us for the Half Marathon or 5K. See you in October!

Board Profile - Charles Ewing

Lifelong Memphian and current Board Chair Charles Ewing has played a vital role since stepping into his post last August, and now is utilizing his leadership skills to not only guide Memphis in May through the COVID-19 crisis, but also the City of Memphis.  Ewing was recently appointed by Mayor Strickland to be part of Memphis' economic restart task force, one of four task forces helping Tennessee's largest cities (Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga) carefully reopen after weeks of staying at home to "flatten the curve" of those affected by corona virus. Charles joins Alan Crone of Crone Law Firm; Dr. Manoj Jain, infectious disease specialist; Kevin Kane CEO of Memphis Tourism; and Beverly Robertson, CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber on the Memphis task force.
The President and Founder of Ewing Moving & Storage, Ewing was part of the NBA pursuit team that brought the Grizzlies to Memphis. He has served on the boards of many local organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, the Federal Reserve, and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Currently, he serves with The Society of Entrepreneurs, The Memphis District Laymen’s Ministry, and as the Adopt-a-School coordinator for the National Baptist Laymen’s Ministry. We are grateful for Charles' leadership in this current global pandemic.
Online Store Opening Later in 2020
If you missed your chance to own a piece of Memphis in May memorabilia last year, rest assured knowing our online store will open later this year. While we typically sell posters, shirts and other merchandise during the month of May, we'll be shifting to another month later this fall to coincide with our postponement dates. Check back for an update on our social media pages in the coming weeks!
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2020 Memphis in May Update
Although we've been working diligently from home since March 17, we're looking forward to getting back in the office in May (even if we aren't going to be in Tom Lee Park this month). While we're still in the process of transitioning our events from May to October, we have appreciated your support during this difficult time and we look forward to doing our part to restore some normalcy to this unusual time and providing the economic boost to our city and its businesses this fall.
WCBCC20 Logo
WCBCC20 Team Applications Reopening
If you missed the window to submit your team application for the World's most prestigious barbecue competition, you're getting a second chance in June! We're reopening the #WCBCC20 team application process and allowing those interested in the opportunity to join us this fall in Tom Lee Park. There are only a few spots left to fill, recruit some friends and help us smoke out downtown Memphis September 30 through October 3!
Concession Profile - Pronto Pups
A staple at every Memphis in May event for the past several years, Pronto Pups is a crowd favorite among locals and visitors alike. Danny and Sharon Andreini own Pronto Pups brand and the secret recipe Sharon's father developed in 1946 here in Memphis. The business has been in the family ever since.
The differences between a Pronto Pup and a corn dog? The Andreinis will tell you it's the hot dog for one, but more importantly it's the batter made of wheat and rice instead of corn. Get one of these Memphis originals with mustard at BSMF this October!
Saluting Ghana in May 2021
As noted in last month's newsletter, after consulting with health officials, our board of directors and officials with the Ghanaian government made the decision to postpone our Salute to Ghana to May 2021.
Part of the scheduled salute was performances from two of Ghana's biggest musical artists at the Beale Street Music Festival - Sarkodie and Stonebwoy. We are pleased to announced that both artists have agreed to join us in May 2021 and will anchor what is sure to be another fantastic Beale Street Music Festival lineup! Mark your calendars for April 30 - May 2.
Volunteer Spotlight - Brandon O'Guin
Brandon O'Guin has worn many hats for the organization over the years. While he currently serves as the Volunteer Chair for the WCBCC Judging committee, O'Guin got his start working as seasonal help during the 2013 festival. His love for food extends beyond the middle of May; Brandon competes in food competitions himself (above picture is from the 2018 World Food Championships) and runs a catering company too. His favorite Memphis in May memory is meeting his now-wife Michelle, who also volunteers during the month. We're so grateful for Brandon's dedication to the organization and for every volunteer's sacrifice to make each May special.



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Committee Selection


The Communications Committee volunteers are responsible for two vital on-site roles, the first is the maintenance and inventorying of communications equipment and the second is to be an information hub for vendors, staff, volunteers, and emergency services.

Festival Services

Festival Services volunteers are the public face of Memphis in May and provide patrons with information about activities.  Volunteers assist staff with executing various auxiliary events, including staffing VIP areas.

Great American River Run

The Great American River Race Half Marathon and 5K is a Memorial Day weekend running event that will pay tribute to past and present servicemen and women. The course will route runners along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River and through downtown Memphis.  A fully staffed "Race Team" comprised of individual volunteers, groups and organizations is critical to the success of the race.    

Honored Nationals

Each year, Memphis in May taps in to the local ethnic community of the honored country.  Individuals and community groups from the honored country’s community are encouraged to join the volunteer ranks to support the celebration of their country.  


Hospitality is a month long committee, which caters to the bands and manages the backstage areas for all of Memphis in May’s events: Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship Barbeque, and Sunset Symphony.

International Education

The committee assists the Memphis in May Education Department in the development of education programming which includes the Children’s Art Poster, International Competitions, World Cargo Crate, as well as the Curriculum Guide. Volunteers also assist securing local host families for students from the honored country and securing staff for the Education Awards Ceremony and the annual International Teacher’s Conference. 

International Programming

Cultural Programming volunteers work closely with Memphis in May staff in the implementation of the International Week which includes installation of exhibits at museums, performance at the Orpheum Theater and  culinary tastings at local venues. Additionally, this committee is responsible for the transportation and hospitality for our honored country’s personalities and performers. Volunteers provide transportation and accompany the honored country’s personalities and performers to meals, shopping, job sites, and local attractions.


Logistics plays an essential role in surveying and marking the locations of event structures and spaces according to the pre-set event map.  The majority of the Logistics Committee’s responsibilities fall around the week leading up to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.  During that time, committee members mark off the team spaces.

Office Resources

Volunteers with Office Resources assist the Memphis in May staff with vital event related communications.  Committee members are involved with all facets of the festival and are essential to its success.


The Production Committee is responsible for the majority of the pre-event creation and maintenance of Memphis in May materials.  Production is also responsible for assisting in site preparations and solving last minute event issues.


Volunteers with this committee assist in the implementation of the Festival recycling program. Volunteers work in sorting recycled items, assisting in waste diversion and changing bags in the receptacles when needed.


The Transportation Committee is responsible for control of vehicular access into Tom Lee Park and parking areas inside the festival gates.  This includes media, vendors, performers, VIP’s and emergency personnel.

Volunteer Services

Volunteer Services is responsible for supporting the onsite volunteer committees.  Responsibilities for this committee include for Volunteer Check-in, filling gaps in other committees, and preparing/serving food.

WCBCC Administration

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC) Administration Committee and the Volunteer Event Chair are responsible for ensuring a smooth WCBCC event.  Individuals in this committee are responsible to complete set-up and decorating the Judging Tent and Judge’s Hospitality. Additionally, volunteers support the Memphis in May staff and other committee leadership before, during, and after the WCBCC.  Members must develop a full knowledge of volunteer, WCBCC, and event rules and regulations.  

WCBCC Contestants

This committee will act as event ambassadors to the teams by providing information and assistance to the teams participating in the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC).  The second responsibility of the Contestants Committee will be the implantation of contestant registration.

WCBCC Judging

Judging Administration volunteers aid in the implantation of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC) judging system.  Volunteers help to receive submission boxes from teams and maintain the integrity of the judging process.

WCBCC Programming

This World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC) committee will assist in the implementation of Kingsford Tour of Champions judging contest and Cooker Caravan.

Mission Statement

The Memphis in May International Festival is a month-long celebration that includes the Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the International Honored Country Salute, Celebrate Memphis and the Great American River Run as well as educational programs that feature each year's honored country.

The mission of Memphis in May is to promote and celebrate Memphis culture, foster economic growth, and enhance international awareness through education.