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Memphis In May: Beale Street Music Fest Reports Lowest Attendance In Three Decades

Memphis in May, renowned for its annual celebrations, has reported substantial losses stemming from its 2023 event, according to Action News. Beale Street Music Festival, a long-standing feature of the festivities, recorded its lowest attendance in over three decades, with a mere 37,805 guests.

The organization attributes the decrease in the Beale Street Music Festival attendance to multiple factors, including higher talent costs and increased competition for ticket sales from neighboring events. This confluence of adverse circumstances culminated in an overall loss of $3.48 million. To compound the distress, this marks the second consecutive year of record financial losses for the festival, following the 2022 event that incurred a staggering deficit of $2.33 million.

Ongoing disputes and legal battles further complicate the backdrop for this financial turmoil. The 2022 event, amid renovations to Tom Lee Park, had to be relocated to Liberty Park. With the festival’s return to Tom Lee Park in 2023, the challenges were expected to subside. However, the construction was not yet finalized, prolonging the troubles.

Additionally, Memphis in May is currently entangled in a lawsuit with the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP) over unpaid damages incurred by using Tom Lee Park during its spring festivals. MRPP is seeking compensation of $1.4 million to cover the damages sustained during the celebrations.

Memphis in May contends that the restoration costs are typically within the range of an average of $61,832 annually. However, the ongoing lawsuit and financial predicaments have necessitated reevaluating plans for its future events.

One immediate repercussion of these issues is the change in location for the renowned World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Owing to the lawsuit and the associated constraints, the organization has initiated a quest to identify an alternative venue for the event in 2024.

James Holt, president and CEO of Memphis in May, commented on the organization’s resilience in the face of adversity, emphasizing its commitment to overcoming the challenges posed by the recent losses and legal disputes. He alluded to forthcoming announcements regarding the specifics of the 2024 festival events, including dates and venues, which are expected to be disclosed within the next seven to 10 days.

The financial setbacks and ongoing legal disputes have presented significant hurdles for Memphis in May. Still, as a testament to its resolve, it remains determined to surmount these challenges and continue its long-standing tradition of cultural celebrations in the heart of Memphis.

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