Memphis in May turns focus to International Week, BBQ Fest

Beale Street Music Festival 2018 (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Beale Street Music Festival 2018 (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The kickoff event to Memphis in May ended with a sold-out night at the Beale Street Music Festival.

Memphis in May organizers said they believe Sunday night's crowd at Beale Street Music Festival broke records.

Tickets online for the all-star lineup sold out by 2 p.m., and all tickets at the gates were gone by 5 p.m.

"It could not have come at a better time," said Kevin Kane, President and CEO of Memphis Convention and Visitor Bureau. "I think Sunday's crowd may have been the biggest Sunday crowd we've had in the history of the Beale Street Music Festival."

Kane said most downtown hotels were sold out this past weekend.

"The month of May is our strongest hotel occupancy month of the entire year in Memphis and Shelby County," Kane said.

The Memphis Convention and Visitor Bureau estimates the tourism & hospitality industry produces $668 million in annual payroll, and in 2017, it provided nearly 40,000 jobs.

"There is a literally something for everyone here," Kane said. "And as a result of that, this industry is the second or third largest industry in the state. And obviously one of the biggest supporters of jobs here in Shelby County."

Final numbers from the weekend's three-day music festival won't be ready until August, but it's already expected to be a weekend for the history books.

Crews wasted no time tearing down the three stages in Tom Lee Park.

"Post Malone, Erykah Badu, Odesza, all have big followings and we saw huge crowds at each of their events last night," said Memphis in May media coordinator Robert Griffin.

The breakdown of the stages began Sunday night as soon as the last act finished.

"This entire park has to transition from three stages to one stage and 225 teams that are going to be filling Tom Lee Park," Griffin said.

Next up in the park is the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, where BBQ teams from around the world compete for the grand champion title.

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is expected to sell out hotels again when the competition starts May 16.

But as the Mid-South waits 11 days for that competition to begin, the focus shifts to the International Salute to Czech Republic, the country honored by Memphis in May 2018.

"This was just the start of Memphis in May's events," Griffin said. "Of course, our exhibits opened on May 1, but now we are in International Week. There's a number of things that are going on with that."

Expect cultural events at community centers, museums, galleries, performing arts centers and schools throughout the city.

Each event will pay respect to Czech Republic's past, present, and future, as only Memphis in May can do it!

International Week's events culminate on Friday night with a gala at the Peabody Hotel.

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest kicks off May 16.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.