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World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest reopens after being temporarily evacuated due to storms

Officials said patrons and guests are allowed to reenter and are no longer required to shelter.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE 3:45 p.m. - Memphis in May officials are giving the all clear and reopening the World Championship Barbecue Festival after it was temporarily evacuated due to storms.

They said patrons and guests are allowed to reenter and are no longer required to shelter.

Admissions and festival operations are resuming as normal. 

"As an outdoor festival, we have an onsite meteorologist to closely monitor developing weather with patron safety top of mind. Venue evacuations are rare, and only implemented when we feel our guests are at risk," they said in a statement.

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2:15 p.m. - From Memphis in May officials: A severe weather alert has been issued for strong thunderstorms which are expected near the fairgrounds between 2:00 & 5:00 today.

Because our guests’ safety is our first priority, out of an abundance of caution and working closely with the authorities, the decision was made to temporarily evacuate the festival grounds and temporarily suspend admissions. 

As soon as it is determined to be safe to re-enter the venue, the Festival will begin operating again which is expected as soon as the front clears later this afternoon.

As an outdoor festival, we have an onsite meteorologist to closely monitor developing weather with patron safety top of mind.  Venue evacuations are rare, and only implemented when we feel our guests are at risk.

We have worked closely with authorities to develop our crisis response plan which places the highest priority on the health and safety of our guests, volunteers and staff, and are in the process of implementing that plan with their cooperation now.

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Memphis in May officials warn weather could affect the Word Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest going on at Liberty Park in the old Mid-South Fairgrounds Friday.

Officials said depending on what happens – especially if there are thunderstorms and lightning - they may temporarily suspend entry and event activity during lunchtime and early afternoon in order to keep everyone safe.

They said weather should clear by early to mid-afternoon and things will return to normal for the BBQ Fest.

Officials said they have an onsite meteorologist to monitor developments.

RELATED: Spotty storms could be heavy at times today

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