In honor of the city’s upcoming 200th birthday, the 2019 Memphis in May International Festival (MIM) will honor Memphis and Shelby County for the first time in the 42-year-old event’s history.
Historically, MIM salutes a country for the one-month festival, but next year, tradition will be broken to celebrate the city’s bicentennial, festival organizers announced Thursday.
“As the Official Festival of the City of Memphis, our board of directors understood what an historic opportunity this was for Memphis in May to break from tradition and celebrate a new century for Memphis,” James Holt, president and CEO of MIM said. “Each year we celebrate the rich history and culture of another country here in Memphis, but this year we look forward to celebrating the history and culture of our hometown as only Memphis in May can.”
Next year, instead of choosing a local artist to create the official festival poster, Memphis artists will have the chance to submit design proposals. A juried panel, along with votes from the public, will determine the finalists.
Finalists’ posters will be on display at the festival’s cultural exhibits and the winning design will be available for purchase as the commemorative poster.
A new event is also slated for the 2019 festival called Celebrate Memphis, which organizers say will be “one of the Mid-South’s most spectacular events.” It’ll feature food, music, art, innovation, while showcasing individuals and organizations “from every corner of the community.”
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of our next century, and to witness in real-time the influence Memphis has around the world,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said. “As we celebrate 200 years of originality that has changed the world, Memphis in May choosing Memphis as the subject of its annual salute is a wonderful birthday present.”
MIM officials also announced Thursday that for the second year in a row, this year’s festival had “record-setting gross revenue,” finishing at $10.9 million. That’s a 12 percent increase from 2017 and up 29 percent from 2016.
Much of this came from the Beale Street Music Festival, which sold 102,507 tickets, with $4.5 million admission gross, according to organizers.
According to MIM, the 2018 festival had a local economic impact of $137.7 million and contributed more than $3.5 in local tax revenues, supporting 1,300 full-time equivalent jobs.
See the 2019 Memphis in May schedule below.
Beale Street Music Festival: May 3 - 5, 2019
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest: May 15 - 18, 2019
Great American River Run: May 25, 2019
Celebrate Memphis: May 25, 2019