The View at Tom Lee and the Barbecue Fest

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I’d been wondering if officials with Memphis in May erred on the side of caution by deciding to move the Barbecue Festival to Tiger Lane in East Memphis. Short answer: They did not.

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On Tuesday evening, I spontaneously turned into the RiverTower parking lot on the way home from work. The river view behind the condos was blocked by tents and trees, but lucky for me, a volunteer named Peter whisked me away on his golf cart for a look at the river. Peter wouldn’t give me his last name, but he’s volunteered at the Barbecue Fest for 23 years, and, as he said, “I’ve never seen the Mississippi like this.”

At the southern end of the park, the water was level with the sidewalk and only three or four feet away from our cart. The sun had finally come out and a quiet breeze was whipping up slow waves, and as we whizzed along, I forgot for a few minutes that the river is dangerous.

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Near the middle of the park, crews were breaking down the stages, and although the river bank is a little higher here, the water was still level with the grass. Logs, trash, and plastic bottles were everywhere.

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“They said they asked the cooking teams whether to change the date or the location,” Peter said. “I don’t know who they asked, but lots of volunteers cook too, and we think moving the festival was the right thing to do.”

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