The return of Beale Street Music Fest brings the return of booming tourism numbers to Memphis

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The stages came down for Beale Street Music Festival at Liberty Park Monday, with tens of thousands leaving the Bluff City with memories to last a lifetime.

The total number of tickets sold won’t be known until the end of Memphis In May, but it is safe to say tens of thousands made their way out to see some of the hottest artists in the music world over the weekend.

The festival returned in 2022 after a two-year absence.

“We needed a weekend,” said Randy Blevins with Memphis In May. “We needed a weekend of just relaxation and music, and I think that’s what Beale Street Music Festival gave us.”

With the final songs played and the once-crowded area now a breakdown site, Blevins is calling this year’s festival a success.

Even with severe weather delays on Saturday, the temporary setup at Liberty Park provided the proper drainage to keep the fun going on Sunday. Many fans appreciated the layout.

“It worked out quite well,” Blevins said. “As with anything when you do something new, there are some learning curves that you have to kind of bump out the rough edges.”

Blevins referred to the logistics of the festival this year: directing traffic flow, coordinating the shuttles - a new addition to the festival - and handling the news of several artists not being able to make it to the stage over the weekend, most notably Lil’ Wayne, one of the festival’s headliners.

“People sometimes just can’t get to to show,” said Blevins. “I would say it does happen. It’s not unexpected that someone will have some difficulty, particularly when you look at the number of artists we book every year.”

Despite the no-shows, Blevins felt the festival was still an enjoyable experience for many who attended.

“Downtown was basically full all weekend, like it is every year, even with music fest and barbeque when it’s down on the river, so that was very encouraging,” said Kevin Kane, President and CEO of Memphis Tourism.

Kane said the weekend provided a spike in hotel bookings for the city.

This is the start of National Travel and Tourism Week, and Memphis Tourism is reporting hotel booking numbers for the first quarter of 2022 that are up 2.5% from the same time in 2019, which was a record-setting year for the city’s tourism.

“We have hit the ground running, and things are as strong as they were pre-COVID. That’s really encouraging for us,” Kane said.

For future festivals, despite the success of Liberty Park, Blevins said it’s no question that the music will return to Tom Lee Park on the river once its renovation is complete.

“Tom Lee Park on the river has been home to Memphis in May for decades,” Blevins said. “The river provides such a wonderful backdrop for the festival.”

For now, it’s down with one set and up with another, as Memphis in May prepares for the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest that starts next Wednesday.

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