By Kara Chamberlain
The Cooper-Young Festival is the most anticipated event in Midtown. For years I have heard of the Festival and have known many to participate, but I have only attended the event once in my life. Before moving to Cooper-Young, I was a long-time resident of east Memphis near Germantown. While living there I never once had any connection with my community. But over the past few months since moving to the neighborhood, I have been thrown into the world of Cooper-Young. I have learned quickly that the lifestyle in this neighborhood is unique compared to the rest of Memphis. Upon taking an internship with the LampLighter, I realized that this uniqueness is, in part, due to the Cooper-Young Festival, an event that is vital to our neighborhood’s identity and one of the things that keeps our community thriving.
I was asked to write this article to inform Festival participants of the best booth locations and side events that just can’t be missed. During my research I discovered how much time and energy is invested by CY residents in making this happening a growing success year after year. I am thoroughly impressed by the dedication of the volunteers and how nearly the entire community rallies their efforts for this occasion. This enthusiasm is contagious. Although I have lived in Cooper-Young for only three months, I find myself attending community meetings and signing up for further community functions just because I enjoy being part of an active community.
The Festival is being held on Saturday, September 18, from 9am-7pm, with a rain date of Sunday, September 19. However, any regular Festival attendee knows that there is no party without a little pre-game. Pre-fest parties are a Festival staple, so invite your neighbors over for a warm-up celebration and then make your way to the festivities. Don’t miss the Art Invitational and Festival Kickoff party on September 16, at David Perry Smith Gallery, located at 703 New York. The art gallery will set the pace for the rest of the weekend, and you won’t want to miss seeing Carol Robison’s design for this year’s Festival poster up close and personal. The Festival Friday 4 Miler is always a great way to participate in a pre-fest activity that involves the entire community. The race begins at the Trestle Art on Friday, September 17, at 7pm. Race for Cooper-Young and come out to support your community as they charge into a weekend of revelry that only CY can deliver.
The renowned booths and stages will be arranged primarily on Cooper Street, stretching from the corner of Walker all the way to Elzey. Musical events begin at 12:15pm with three stage locations: the Goner Records/Young Avenue Deli Stage at Young and Meda, the Visible School Stage in the First Congo parking lot, and the Main Stage on Young Avenue west of Cooper. Don’t miss any of the musical performances chosen for a guaranteed good time. Feature performances include Jack O and the Tennessee Tearjerkers, The Limes, Keia Johnson, Speakerboxx, The Sheriffs of Nottingham, and Tony Dickerson. The headliner on the Main stage is Marcela & Orquesta Caliente.
There is one more exciting feature to this year’s Festival. Come out and meet the new neighborhood superhero, Captain Community, as he makes his first public appearance at the Festival Friday 4 Miler and then again at the Cooper-Young Festival. The CY Community Association is proud to present our new hero, who promotes community, neighborhood justice, and power to the artists! Our masked hero will meet and greet throughout the Festival, so be on the lookout and welcome our new superhero to the neighborhood.
On top of enjoying the musical talent, the tasty food, and our superhero special guest, you could easily spend the whole day doing nothing more than exploring the 380 booths brought to you by local artists and others that have traveled to Cooper-Young specifically for this great occasion. You never know what you might find among the hodgepodge of people and tents, but one thing you can guarantee is that there will never be a dull moment. So residents of Cooper-Young, brace yourselves for another exciting and spectacular Festival. This is the Festival to attend, and as a new resident to Cooper-Young, I cannot wait to show off what my neighborhood has to offer to the rest of Memphis.
By Kara Chamberlain