Guide To Cooper Young Festival 2016

Posted by Holly Whitfield | September 12th 2016 8290 0

This post will be updated in July 2017. The 2017 date is September 16.

Cooper Young Fest is – at least in midtown – pretty much an official holiday. For the last 29 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 17, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s free to enter.

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

3. This year, there are 435 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 last year. 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, you’ll like having some trouble texting/calling. Plan accordingly.

9. Wear sunscreen.

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, do it early for best street parking selection. Prepare to walk. Streets in the surrounding half-mile or so will fill up fast.

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.

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 (enter on Central, $20 per car) and walk over. Or, park at CBU ($20) and ride “The Roo” shuttle over to the entrance of the festival – $2 each way. This shuttle will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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 live music from 11: 15 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., including Brennan Villines, Hope Clayburn, James & the Ultrasounds, and The Dirty Streets.

18. Mulan Bistro Stage (in the First Congo Parking Lot) will have live music from 11:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., including Me & Leah, Grace Askew, David Cousar, Marcella & Her Lovers, and Motel Mirrors.

19. Grizzlies/Goner Stage (at intersection of Young and Meda) will have live music from 12:30 p.m. until around 5:30 pm., including Mark Edgar Stuart, Alicja Pop, and Guitar Wolf starting at 4:30 p.m.

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. 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.

CY 4 Miler

22. The Cooper Young 4-Miler is Friday, September 16 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.)

23. The Cooper York Fest is September 17 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Memphis Made Brewing. The taproom hosts this extension of CY Fest with food trucks, entertainment, and special release beers.

24. Just down the street, I Love Juice Bar will celebrate their one year anniversary.

25. Like I said before, it’s pretty much a holiday to residents, so get yourself in festival mode 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 2016
Cooper Young Neighborhood
September 17, 2016
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Ed. Note: This post is an updated, re-formatted version of the 2015 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. Elizabeth Colhoun says:

    Midtown Glassworks booth A169 (in front of the Drum Shop) awesome traditional and fused stained glass. Makes a great gift or treat yourself. Come see us!!!

  2. Hubert152 says:

    I’m glad to run across this site. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your further posts. Thanks!

  3. Cynthia says:

    I plan to visit Memphis in September and found out about the fest. Your comments are helpful! Enjoyed them!

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