World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest makes comeback after pandemic cancellation

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Monday is a big day for Memphis in May as tickets for the return of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest went on sale!

In 2020, the Bluff City was not graced with the sweet smells of the best barbecue in the world along the Mississippi River when all Memphis in May events were canceled due to COVID-19.

More: Memphis in May announces 2021 dates with no Beale Street Music Festival

With tickets for the 2021 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest going on sale Monday, Randy Blevins with Memphis in May says it’s an emotional milestone toward a triumphant return.

“It feels to be back. It feels good to have an on sale,” said Blevins, vice president of marketing and programming Memphis in May. “It feels so good to know that we’re selling tickets to an event that will happen in Memphis Tennessee this May.”

Blevins says Memphis in May has made more than 140 safety changes to the event while working with the Shelby County Health Department.

The most dramatic changes include cutting capacity in half, limiting and spacing out competing teams and shutting down the park earlier in the night.

“Not to have done it last year means you’ve got a lot of pent-up demand,” said Blevins. “You’ve got a lot of real desire to get back to it. I know that there’s a great deal of excitement about this year’s event.”

“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Kevin Kane, Memphis Tourism President. “It’s a good test for us and it’s great for Memphis in May to get them going again.”

Kane says for the past three weeks, local tourism numbers have been building to pre-pandemic numbers.

Kane is hopeful the world championship barbecue cooking contest is the first successful return of many events this spring and summer.

“We’ve seen numbers that we haven’t seen since pre-pandemic and that’s the important thing, we’re crossing the threshold where, we didn’t see it last summer when things loosened up a little bit, we didn’t see it in the fall but we’re seeing it now,” said Kane.

Memphis in May expects all tickets to sell out quickly.

For a link to buy tickets, visit

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.