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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Memphis in May’s cancellation cost the festival almost $1.8 million

The month-long festival, which includes the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19
Credit: Memphis in May

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The path of COVID-19’s destruction continues to widen.

Memphis in May International Festival, the annual, popular month-long festival which includes the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, lost $1.795 million in 2020.

Thursday, organizer’s released their annual report which detailed the losses after COVID-19 forced them to cancel this year’s events.

“The challenges presented by the pandemic represent the most difficult period our organization has ever faced, and the challenges are ongoing,” said James L. Holt, President and CEO of Memphis in May.

“For the first time in 44 years, Memphis in May did not happen. Without a festival there is very little to no revenue for 2020 and consequentially Memphis in May has suffered a devastating $1.795 million financial loss. A loss of this scale has no precedent in the festival’s history. Historically, the organization’s largest loss to date was $595,000 in 1998,” Holt said.

According to organizers, Memphis in May International Festival “exists to produce a civic festival celebrating Memphis culture and to elevate the city’s profile on the international stage.”

Memphis in May International Festival will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2021. The honored country is Ghana.

2021 Memphis in May International Festival dates include:

Beale Street Music Festival
April 30 – May 2, 2021

Salute to Ghana
May 1 - 31, 2021

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest
May 12 – 15, 2021

Great American River Run
May 29, 2021

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