HYPERLOCAL NEWS HUB BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM
BBQ Festival Finds Home on Tiger Lane
Tom Lee Park still underwater
Tom Lee Park/By Doug Gillon
By Doug Gillon/MicroMemphis Reporter
May 12, 2011
Even with Tom Lee Park still underwater, the self-proclaimed “king of all cookouts” is set to begin this afternoon at Tiger Lane, bringing with it what is expected to be one of the biggest crowds since the mid-south fair days.
“We’re not totally unfamiliar with events like this,” said Kristan Huntley, community director of the Cooper-Young Community Association. “Traffic could get pretty heavy from Tiger games, but that said, I think some of our residents are waiting to see what happens. Traffic will be the biggest issue.”
As this festival, with 255 teams competing for more than $100,000 in prizes, in the largest one to date, Huntley is safe to assume that the normal flow of people and cars will be disrupted somewhat.
Memphis in May officials decided to move the event, which is traditionally held at riverside Tom Lee Park, to Tiger Lane back on May 2, when the National Weather Service predicted the Mississippi river would crest at 48 feet. The predictions were exactly right, and because of the advanced planning BBQ fest will go on.
“Memphis in May has a really good track record for planning these types of things,” Huntley said. “They have been really clear in communicating loading times and other logistics to help this move along as smoothly as possible.”
Alternate sites, including one in northern Shelby County, were considered but also viewed as a potential flood risk. The contest was moved to Tiger Lane almost as a last resort, in order to keep the dates of the event the same.
One group, the Memphis Roller-Derby, has been completely displaced for the three festival days, unable to practice for an upcoming bout as Tiger Lane’s Pipkin building is all tied up with contestants.
Some area businesses, on the other hand, see nothing but benefit from the move. Craig Blondis, co-owner of Cooper-Young business Central Barbecue said the move only made it easier for him and his team to set up, and the vicinity of the festival is sure to bring in more business for his restaurant during the festivities.
“I would think we’d definitely see more people with [the cookout] being right around the corner,” Blondis said, “but I’d be there pretty much no matter where or when they managed to hold the contest. It’s how we got started, and I can’t imagine not doing it.”
Along with Central Barbecue, Cooper-Young business Fork it Over, located at 2299 Young Avenue, has entered a team in the competition.
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