The ILM Guide to: 26 Things to Do in Memphis This Fall
Get out your calendars: it's going to be a busy fall in Memphis.
Here's my annual guide to Memphis' fall festivals and special events. If your favorite event isn't listed, please let me know by submitting it to the events calendar. Also, if you're looking for a 5K, those will be listed seperately this year.
For one night only, check out art from around the world without the hassle of a plane ticket when the Mobile Sketchbook Library parks in Memphis on Thursday, Aug. 29. The mobile library – which holds more than 4,500 sketchbooks created by artists and non-artists around the world – will be outside of Crosstown Arts. After work, it turns into a party with live music from Jeff Hulett's one-man band, food from the Los Jarochos taco truck, ice cream, drinks and more.
Get your picnics ready – free music returns to the Levitt Shell this fall. The fall lineup includes a ton of great bands (think Star and Micey, John Paul Keith, Shannon McNally, Webb Wilder, Opera Memphis) playing free outdoor shows. A few of the events (like Opus One and Stars at the Shell) aren't free, so check the listings before you head out.
The Delta Fair is a classic affair. It's a week of midway games, rides, livestock and homemaking competitions, exhibits, pig wrastlin' (their spelling) and this year – the part I'm most excited about – a demolition derby. The fair is open every day until at least 10 p.m.
Attention foodies: Cochon is returning to Memphis on August 30th for their second annual Cochon Heritage Barbecue. The event is somewhat scaled down from last year's full weekend of meat eating, but it's still going to be fun. Admission includes tastings from competing barbecue teams, as well as drinks.
The Center for Southern Folklore's annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival is two days of southern-fried live music, dancing, cooking, storytelling and vendors that happens downtown over Labor Day weekend. The festival is completely free and family friendly, so don't hesitate to bring everyone you know.
For months, artists have been posting up at Five in One Social Club on Broad Ave., carving images into giant, 4×8 foot wooden blocks in anticipation of steamroller printing night. The VINI crew has rented a steamroller, and for one night only, they'll be using it to make prints. You can view the blocks online now and pre-order discount prints.
The Church Health Center's seventh annual Rock for Love festival is undergoing a few changes this year, but that's not a bad thing. Instead of several nights of shows, they're having a Friday night show at the Young Ave. Deli, a Saturday day show at the Levitt Shell, and back-to-back night shows at the Levitt Shell and Young Ave. Deli on Saturday night. This year's bands include Dead Soldiers, the Memphis Dawls, the Star Killers, Soul Scrimmage, Mighty Souls Brass Band and more.
The Outflix film festival returns to the Ridgeway Four for a week of documentaries, feature films and short films with an LGBTQ focus. The films are from all over the world, and the schedule is pretty impressive. A full festival pass that gets you into all of the movies and events is $90, or you can pay $10 per film.
You could go to the Germantown Festival for the crafts, demonstrations, live music, vendors, classic cars and overall sense of community. You wouldn't be wrong to do so. You would, however, be wrong to miss the annual Running of the Weenies, an adorably chaotic dachshund race.
The Southern Heritage Classic is so much more than the annual football game between Tennessee State University and Jackson State University. It's also a weekend-long celebration that includes golf tournaments, music, fashion shows, marching bands, comedians and tons of tailgaiting. Here's a full schedule of events.
Calling all desingers, developers, programmers and people with big ideas: Hack Memphis wants you for an intense day of creating and building. Hack Memphis is a day for the Memphis tech community to come together to creat new things, hack existsing software and share ideas. It's free, but pre-registration is required.
Mark your calendars for midtown's biggest party. The Cooper-Young Festival shuts down the intersection of Cooper and Young (and several blocks in each direction) for a gigantic street fair on the third Saturday in September. Be sure to buddy up to your friends in the neighborhood: they've got clean bathrooms, driveways and might be having back yard parties.
Ahoy, landlubbers! Pirates are taking over Mud Island again during this year's Pyrate Fest. Expect lots of family friendly swashbucking good times – costume contests, a pirate ship, the Pyrate's Ball, fire dancing, live music, arts and crafts, vendors and the return of the sea shanty sing along.
Downtown Museum Day is the best day to play tourist. Most downtown Memphis museums are having free or reduced admissions on September 21st. For a full list of participating museums and the discounts they're offering, check here.
The Best Memphis Burger Fest returns to Minglewood Hall for a second year on September 22. It sort of works the same way as Hot Wing Fest: cooking teams (anyone is welcome to form one) cook burgers, judges judge the burgers, and you, as an attendee, may be lucky enough to get samples from the teams (who can't sell their offerings, but can give them away).
From 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the last Thursdays in September and October, the shops, galleries and businesses on Broad Ave. will stay open late. The space between the new Indie Style Market and West Memorials will be packed with food trucks, live music, kid's activities, a community dance classes and vendors selling everything from art to locally-grown produce.
Gonerfest, Goner Records' annual four-day celebration of garage, punk and indie rock, turns 10 this year. Celebrate a decade of loud music, spilled beer and good times with bands like Ex-Cult, Guitar Wolf, Quintron, Viva L'American Death Ray, Harlan T. Bobo, and Wreckless Eric. This one's not for kids.
Grab a spoon and get ready to sample ice cream from local and national ice cream vendors at the 19th annual Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival. In addition to tons of frosty goodness, there will be activities, games and plenty of outdoor fun. Proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House.
Cordova may be part of Memphis now, but it's small farming town roots come out during the annual Cordova Festival. The fest is two days of vendors, crafts, demonstrations, talks, live music and history at the Cordova Community Center.
Bring your busted, rusted and otherwise damaged metal items to the National Ornamental Metal Museum for a little TLC this October. During Repair Days, the museums' crew of blacksmiths and metalworkers will fix your items for a fee (which benefits the museum). If you only go one day, make it Oct. 5th: that's Family Fun Day, and they'll have music, activities, an auction and world famous stew.
Listen to your fellow Memphians tell their stories of courageous acts, feats of derring-do and overcoming fear live on the Crosstown Arts stage on October 6th. Some of the stories are funny, some are hearbreaking, but all of them are true, and notes aren't allowed. It's free, rated PG-13, and seats are first-come, first-serve, so get there early.
The annual Pink Palace Crafts fair is three days of outdoor artisan demonstrations (in everything from candle making to metalsmithing), kids' activities, eating and shopping at booths run by artists and craftspeople from around the country. Proceeds benefit the Pink Palace Museum.
The annual Mid-South Pride Parade and Festival is the largest annual LGBT event in the Mid-South, and it's a fun one. Expect vendors, live music, drag queens (and kings), floats, beads, and more than 40 participating community organizations.
The Cooper-Young Regional Beer Fest is one of my favorite annual Memphis beer tastings. The selection of regional craft beers is pretty great and a limited number of tickets are sold every year, which means that the lines are shorter, thus, there's more time for beer tasting. Tickets
During River Arts Fest, hundreds of local and national artists, craftsmen and bands pack the South Main Arts District for three days of selling, music, demonstrations, hands-on activities and fun. It's completely family friendly, and worth the price of admission, especially for the 50 musical acts spread out on three stages.
The Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention is three glorious days of geekery. There will be panels, gaming, costumes (and a costume contest), visiting artists and writers, and, something called Harry Potter Studies.
Know of any more awesome events happening in Memphis this fall? Submit them to the ILM Events Calendar, and I'll add them to this list.