Lightning Forces Evacuation of Tom Lee Park; Impacting BBQ Competitors

Local News

Weather moved through Memphis Friday afternoon proved challenging for some competitors in the downtown area. 

Storms forced the temporary closure of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest temporarily.

The weather was not severe, but there were downpours, wind gusts, and lightning. Organizers said the lightning was concerning to them.

The park evacuation we instituted was related to the weather; a lightning strike was reported two miles from Tom Lee Park and out of an abundance of caution,” organizer Robert Griffin said.

For more than two hours those who left the area had to wait behind the road closure gates. People were eventually let back in at 4:30 p.m.  

“We had another four or five who are locked out and couldn’t get in, unfortunately, and they had some of the key ingredients that we needed to finish off a recipe to submit it,” said Nick Johnson with Pigs Gone Wild. 

Organizers told Local 24 they are working with competitors regarding the inconvenience. 

Our barbecue ambassadors are working with their teams to adjust the times. We push some of those turning times back a little bit, and we’ve even moved some of them to tomorrow and the judging times have been adjusted as well. Even our entertainment tonight, Coolio has been moved back a little bit but it still going on,” said Griffin. 

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