Guide To Cooper Young Festival 2017

Posted by Holly Whitfield | September 13th 2017 4612 0

Cooper Young Fest is – at least in midtown – pretty much an official holiday. For the last 30 years, this neighborhood event has grown to be one of the largest one-day events in Tennessee. Expect about 135,000 people to flood the area during the day-long event.

Here are 25 essential things to know and pro-tips to help you make the most of the day.

1. Cooper Young Fest is September 16, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s free to enter.

2. This year’s CY Fest Day is again a Memphis Tigers home football game, which kicks off at 11 a.m. against UCLA – a big game. Gird your loins, midtown.

3. This year, there are more than 400 vendors selling everything you can think of: arts, crafts, ceramics, jewelry, vintage stuff, clothes, t-shirts, food, Memphis stuff, and much more.

4. It’s family-friendly, at least until the later afternoon. There’s a Kid’s Area with fun things for the little ones. Leave the pets at home, though.

5. Cooper will be blocked off from Central to Walker. Young Avenue will be blocked off from west of the Young Avenue Deli to Meda. Here’s a general map of the area. You can find maps of all the vendor booths here.

6. Expect crowds. About 135,000 people came to CY Fest at some point in past years. Arrive early to avoid some of this.

7. Bring cash. Vendors may accept credit cards, but you can never be sure.

Cooper Young Festival 2014 Morning

Cooper Young Festival in 2014 at opening time. It was weirdly cold. Usually it’s insanely hot.

8. As crowds grow – and especially with the football game happening- cell service might be spotty. And by that I mean, your phone won’t work. My phone (AT&T) usually stops working completely for several hours during the busiest parts of the day/game. Plan accordingly.

9. Wear sunscreen, unless you just want to get your last sunburn of the summer this weekend.

10. Make a plan for parking. The next five tips are about parking.

Cooper Young Fest in the afternoon, 2015. It was insanely hot.

Cooper Young Fest in the afternoon, 2015. It was insanely hot.

11. If you must drive and park for some reason, do it early for best street parking selection. Prepare to walk. Streets in the surrounding half-mile (mile, even) or so will fill up fast. Some streets will be blocked. Don’t forget there’s a football game at 11 a.m. at the Liberty Bowl. Please be careful when crossing streets, folks! (And if you’re driving, take extra care; it’s festival day.)

12. If you can’t get there until later, I’d highly suggest an alternative to driving yourself. Lyft, Uber, or take a cab. I’m not sure what the surge fares/wait times will be that day, but probably crazy.

13. Or, ride your bike. There will be a free Bike Corral in the Bluff City Sport parking lot (at Cooper and York) where you can park your bike while you enjoy the festival. Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

14. Or, park in the CBU lot and walk over or take a shuttle. I’m trying to find out more info on this but haven’t gotten a response. In years past, it was $20 per car to park and they had a bus that took you over.

15. Remember that it’s totally free to enter the festival, so a few bucks for parking or a ride isn’t a big deal.


16. There are three music stages; be sure you don’t miss that part of the Festival. Full lineup.

17. The Main Stage (in front of Young Ave. Deli) has music from 11:15 a.m. until the last band starts at 5:15 p.m., including Joyce Cobb, The Band Camino, and Star and Micey.

18. The 901 Comics Stage (First Congo Parking Lot) has music starting at 12:15 p.m. until the last band starts at 4:15 p.m. including Heels and Dead Soldiers.

19. The Memphis Grizzlies Stage (at Young and Meda) has music starting at 12:30 p.m. until the last band starts at 4:30 p.m., including Sonic Pulse, Troika, and The PRVLG.

20. Do All The Things! Experience all the fun at CY Fest: peruse the booths, talk to people, catch a few demos, and get some grub.

21. The Cooper Young 4-Miler is Friday, September 15 at 7 p.m. The neighborhood goes all out, with yard parties, cheering sections, and I’ve even heard of folks handing out Jello-O shots for runners to grab as they jog by. (See the “toga” party photo below.)

CY 4 Miler

22. The Cooper York Fest is September 16 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Memphis Made Brewing. The taproom hosts this extension of CY Fest with food trucks, entertainment, vendors, and special release beers. It’s free to enter.

23. If you decide to enter one of the restaurants/bars in Cooper Young on CY Fest Day, awesome! Just try not to use these establishments as your personal AC station, i.e., camp out at tables while others are waiting, and please, please – as someone who has bartended at CY Fest before – tip appropriately.

24. Speaking of entering a neighborhood restaurant/bar: Railgarten is sure to be even more insanely crowded than it already is on the weekend. Please,  please be careful when walking to this popular hotspot – use the crosswalk at Central and Cooper for safest crossing. Each weekend, I see hordes of young people (and even some families with strollers!) crossing in the middle of Central Avenue and maybe I’m getting old, but like, let’s at least use the crosswalk?

Partying and pedestrians and driving don’t mix, so let’s take an extra few steps or few moments for some care and we can all continue to rage it out in a relatively safe way like midtown does on CY Fest day.

25. Like I said before, it’s pretty much a holiday to residents, so get yourself in festival mode, make a plan, and dive in. It’s “midtown Christmas” and one of the most fun days of the year. Make new friends, get some holiday shopping done, hear some music, drink some beer, and have a Pronto pup.

Cooper Young 4-Miler Street Party, 2015

Cooper Young 4-Miler Street Party, 2015

Go there:

Cooper Young Festival 2017
Cooper Young Neighborhood
September 16, 2017
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Ed. Note: This post is an updated, re-formatted version of the annual CY Fest guide.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Vox says:

    We’re in Memphis for the day and we will check this festival out. Thanks for enriching our Memphis experience!

  2. Doris says:

    You failed to mention pay $20 to park and also pay $2 to catch the shuttle to the festival and $2 to be driven back to your car.

    • Holly Whitfield says:

      Hi Doris, I tried to get exact information about this shuttle but my messages, Tweets, and phone calls were ignored. I did not fail to mention $20 to park:

      “In years past, it was $20 per car to park and they had a bus that took you over.”

      I apologize if you were caught off guard for the $4 additional total for the shuttle itself, but I did make it clear that I was reporting the best I could find. The “Ride the Roo” car that charged $2 last year is no longer in service and I could find no more info about that. I did also say in the post:

      “Remember that it’s totally free to enter the festival, so a few bucks for parking or a ride…” and tried to communicate that it’s kind of a crazy day, and things can be unpredictable or unclear. I will change it in future years to say that there may be additional fees that happen or even appear on that day (I saw someone charging $15 to park in their driveway, but I could not have known about it ahead of time) so that this won’t happen again. I just searched other outlets (local news, etc.) but no one mentioned any costs at all, much less the shuttle fee.

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