The 27th Annual Southern Heritage Classic
Starting tomorrow and going through the weekend in Memphis is the 27th annual Southern Heritage Classic. If you’re not familiar, it’s a weekend of events surrounding the yearly football matchup between Jackson State and Tennessee State.
(It’s also #55 on our list of Reasons To Love Memphis, which I’m still accepting suggestions for…)
Here’s what you can expect:
– All-day daily tailgating at the Liberty Bowl on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
– Stephanie Mills with Jammin Jay Lamont concert at the Orpheum Thursday night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55 – $65 and are still available.
– Music festival featuring MAZE, Frankie Beverly, and KEM at the Landers Center on Friday night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $65 – $95 and are still available.
– Classic Parade in Orange Mound on Saturday at 9 a.m. featuring local high school marching bands. The route is along Southern Ave. from Haynes to Airways.
– Classic Battle of the Bands on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Whitehaven High School Stadium featuring the best high school bands and dance troupes in the region. Tickets are $10.
– Bedazzled Bold and Beautiful brunch fashion show at the U of M Holiday Inn at Saturday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $50; call (901) 831-8739 for availability.
– Football game at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Liberty Bowl, including a Halftime Show and “5th Quarter” Battle of the Bands featuring Jackson State’s Sonic Booth of the South and Tennessee State’s Aristocrat of Bands. Tickets are $20 – $50 and are still available.
I spoke to Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones recently, who gave me some background on this incredible fun long weekend, which has a major impact on Memphis.
Holly: How did the Southern Heritage Classic start?
Mr. Jones: I founded the event in 1990 as a way I could produce an event that included music and sports, but also to prove I could do it here. Memphis at that time had a reputation, a) that things were hard to get off the ground here, but also b) if you can be successful here, you can be successful anywhere.
Holly: How has this event grown and changed since then?
Mr. Jones: At first, it was mostly alumni groups from both schools that participated. Over time, the Southern Heritage Classic has come to attract more general fans or people who just want to come to Memphis to visit. Also, the Internet wasn’t really around in 1990, so we’ve learned how to incorporate the Internet and social media into what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
Holly: How many people come out for the event?
Mr. Jones: Last year we had somewhere north of 40,000 people at the football game, about 15,000 to 20,000 people at the parade, and about 10,000 people tailgating.
Holly: What can folks expect when they come to Memphis or attend the SHC this weekend?
Mr. Jones: We strive to maintain tradition, so while we do the same things every year, we work to enhance those. Historically, when you come to an HBCU football game, you have the football game of course, but also some of the greatest bands in the country with tremendous reputations. You know you’re going to be entertained.
What we’ve been able to do – it’s like what’s happened with the Super Bowl – is have a variety of things for people to get involved in beyond just the game. That’s what the Classic has represented. It’s a way to incorporate what is good about Memphis: the National Civil Rights Museum, Stax, Graceland, Beale Street, and more, and show that to people that come to be a part of the Classic.
For more info, check out the SHC website at southernheritageclassic.com
27th Annual Southern Heritage Classic
September 8-10, 2016
Various Locations (game at the Liberty Bowl)