The ILM Guide to 2014 Fall Festivals and Events
It's hard to think about something called "fall" when we're practically melting this week, but our fall events and festivals are right around the corner. Here's my annual guide. I'll probably add to this list, so if your favorite event isn't listed, please let me know by submitting it to the events calendar.
Delta Fair, Agricenter International, August 29 – September 7, $10 adults / $5 kids and seniors
The Delta Fair is a classic. It's a week of midway games, rides, livestock and homemaking competitions, exhibits, pig races ("not to be confused with Churchill Downs") and a demolition derby. The fair is open every day until at least 10 p.m.
Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, Center for Southern Folklore, August 30 – 31, free
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.
Levitt Shell Fall Concert Series, Levitt Shell, Thursdays – Sundays, September 5 – October 12, free
Get your picnics ready – free music returns to the Levitt Shell this fall. The fall lineup includes a ton of great bands (think North Mississippi Allstars, Star and Micey, Dead Soliders, Opera Memphis) playing free outdoor shows. You can see the full lineup here.
Rock for Love, Crosstown Neighborhood / Overton Square / Levitt Shell, September 5 – 7, various prices
The Church Health Center's eighth annual Rock for Love festival is going to be bigger than ever, with three days of music in a bunch of cool venues. On Friday, more than a dozen bands will play sets at several spots in the Crosstown neighborhood. Saturday is a day of shows in Overton Square with an after-party at the new Hattiloo Theatre, and Sunday has three acts at the Levitt Shell. This year's bands include Mark Edgar Stuart, Impala, Grifters, Mighty Souls Brass Band, Dirty Streets, Stax Academy Band, Knowledge Nick with Chinese Dub Connection Embassy, and more.
Outflix Film Festival, Malco Ridgeway Four, Sept. 5 – 11, full fest pass $95, individual films $10
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.
Germantown Festival, Germantown Civic Club Complex, September 6 – 7, free
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.
Southern Heritage Classic Weekend, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (and other locations), September 11 – 13, priced per event
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.
25th Annual International Goat Days Festival, USA Stadium, September 12 – 15, $5 parking/free admission, all ages
Millington's annual celebration of the noble goat includes vendors, demonstrations, a petting zoo, goat chariot races and more. This year celebrates a quarter-century of Goat Days with the "World's Greatest Goat Parade" on Friday at 5 p.m.
Spillit Memphis, September 12 and 19, October 10, November 21, Amurica Photo, $10
You have a couple of chances to listen to your fellow Memphians tell their stories of Freedom, Redemption, Persuasion, Silver Lingin, a live on the Amurica Photo stage. Some of the stories are funny, some are heartbreaking, but all of them are true, and notes aren't allowed. It's $10 (and that includes drinks), rated PG-13, and seats are first-come, first-serve, so get there early.
Memphis Comic Expo, September 13, Agricenter International, September 13, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., $15 adults/$5 kids/under 5 free
Memphis comic con culture continues to grow with the addition of the Memphis Comic Expo, a con focused on the artists and their work. There will be a mix of artist and writers from Memphis, all over the country, and a few international folks, plus of course, a cosplay contest.
Cooper-Young Festival, corner of Cooper and Young, September 13, free
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.
Mid-South Fair, Landers Center, September 19 – 28, $12 adults/$6 kids and seniors, all ages
Head to the Landers Center (in Southaven) for the 158th annual Mid-South Fair to get your fill of funnel cakes, rides, more. It's a solid week of rides, games, MMA fights, talent contests, roller derby and carnival food. Bonus: admission is free on weekdays before 2 p.m.
Hack Memphis, Cowork Memphis , September 19 – 21, $5
Calling all designers, developers, programmers and people with big ideas: Hack Memphis wants you for an intense weekend of creating and building. Hack Memphis is a day for the Memphis tech community to come together to create new things, hack existing software and share ideas. Pre-registration is required.
Best Memphis Burger Fest, Minglewood Hall, September 21, $7
The Best Memphis Burger Fest returns to Minglewood Hall for a third year on September 21. 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). There's also a Bloody Mary contest, a pickle-eating contest for kids, a slider-eating contest for grown-ups, live music, and more.
Mid-South Book Festival, Storybooth at Crosstown Arts/Memphis Botanic Gardens/Booksellers at Laurelwood/Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, September 25 – 28, mostly free, all ages
More than 50 local and national authors will come to Memphis for four days of literary bliss in late September. Expect speakers, book signings, vendors, workshops, and entertainment, all benefitting Literacy Mid-South. A couple of the workshops require you to buy tickets, but most of the events are free.
GonerFest 11, Goner Records / The Buccaneer / Hi-Tone / Murphy's, September 25 – 28, $70 full festival
Gonerfest, Goner Records' annual four-day celebration of garage, punk and indie rock, turns 11 this year. Celebrate another year of loud music, spilled beer and good times that brings in rock fans from all over the world. This one's not for kids.
Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival, AutoZone Park, September 27, $10 advance/$12 at gate
Grab a spoon and get ready to sample ice cream from local and national ice cream vendors at the 20th 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.
Mid-South Pride Parade and Festival, Robert Church Park / Beale St., September 27, free
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.
Repair Days, National Ornamental Metal Museum, October 2 – 5, free
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. 4th: that's Family Fun Day, and they'll have music, activities, and an auction.
Cordova Festival, Cordova Community Center, October 4, free
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.
Pink Palace Crafts Fair, Audubon Park, October 10 – 12, $7 adults / $5 seniors / $3 kids
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.
Cooper-Young Regional Beer Fest, 795 S. Cooper, October 11, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., $35 before Oct. 1/$40 after Oct. 1, 21 and up
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.
Memphis Outdoor Festival, Shelby Farms Park, October 18 – 19, various prices
If you love trail running and biking, rejoice! The very first Memphis Outdoor Festival is finally happening this year. There are mountain bike races, trail running races, a beer garden, paddle boarding, dock dogs competition (!!) and a ton more things to do and see.
Steamroller Printing, Five in One Social Club, October 18, noon – 8 p.m., free
Steamroller printing is back for a second year at Five in One Social Club on Broad Avenue. Artists will carve images into giant, 4×8 foot wooden blocks, the VINI crew will rent a steamroller, and for one night only, they'll be using it to make prints.
River Arts Fest, South Main Arts District, October 24 – 26, free Friday night / $5 Saturday and Sunday
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.
Indie Memphis Film Festival, October 30 – November 2, ticket and schedule info TBA
The 17th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival will no doubt be another amazing weekend of filmmakers, panels, awards, and lots and lots of films. More info is on the way, but check out these reasons to attend from last year's fest.
Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, Hilton Memphis, Nov. 21 – 23, $15 single day ($20 Sat.) / $35 full festival
The Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention is three glorious days of geekery. There will be panels, gaming, costumes (and a costume contest), and visiting artists and writers.
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.