Much anticipated CY Festival is here
By Leslie Thompson
The third Friday of every September in Cooper-Young arrives with a distinctive feeling. It is an almost singular type of excitement that one normally reserves for the last day of school or even Christmas Eve. The sensation is not unlike that of a roller coaster ride with the anticipation it brings as it ascends and click-click-clicks to the crest of its tallest drop. For many the day is a promise of good things to come because on Friday evening the work is almost done. Races have been run, celebrations have been planned, lawns have been mowed, and on Saturday Cooper-Young will put itself on show.
By Friday the streets are marked with booth numbers and the first food trucks appear on scene. Stages are erected early Saturday morning and, with tents and tables in tow, vendors begin to make their way to the neighborhood. They come from all over the United States – California, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, and North Carolina, just to name a few. Hundreds of artists, craftsmen, and curators of curiosities line up in this quaint, historic neighborhood to show you what they have. Handmade soap, jewelry, zombie artwork, paintings, yard ornaments, henna tattoos, custom furniture – this Festival has it all.
With a frozen lemonade or frosty beer in hand and the ubiquitous Pronto Pup never far from sight, over 100,000 revelers weave in and out of the Festival throughout the day. Crowds gather in front of the music stages while shoppers peruse the booths. Impromptu parties and reunions sprout up all over the place, often right in the middle of the intersection. Suffice it to say, the people watching is prime. Come mid-Saturday the atmosphere is that of a massive party where one feels as if they could just about run into everyone they’ve ever known.
This year’s Cooper-Young Festival is Saturday, September 17 from 9am to 7pm, with a rain date set for Sunday, September 18, and it promises to be just as exciting as the years before. But before you join your neighbors, other Memphians, artists, and musicians at the Festival, remember the pre-Fest activities, too. The Cooper-Young Art Invitational and Kick-Off Party will be held on Thursday, September 15 at David Perry Smith Gallery. Located at 703 New York, the original artwork of Nick Canterucci, this year’s chosen Festival poster artist, will be featured. Following that, the Festival Friday 4 Miler takes off through the neighborhood starting at the Trestle on Friday, September 16 at 7pm. Whether you are running or cheering, the race is a fantastic way to jump-start the weekend. House parties with neighbors lighting the way will take place throughout the community, so host a party of your own or join in on the fun.
Come Festival day, almost 400 artists and vendors will have their booths lined up and down Cooper Street and on Young Avenue east of Cooper. Booths will also be found in the First Congregational Church parking lot. The music starts at 12:15pm at the Main Stage, which is located on Young just west of Cooper. The Visible College Stage gets started at the same time in the First Congo parking lot, and the Memphis Drum Shop Stage will follow at 12:30 at the corner of Young and Meda. Take a break from shopping and stop to listen to the sweet tunes of Sid Selvidge, University of Memphis Jazz Quartet, Blue Mother Tupelo, and many more.
The Cooper-Young Festival is in its 24th year and has become one of the most well-known and anticipated street parties in Memphis. Carry on the tradition and join your neighbors in this annual celebration of our lovely, eclectic neighborhood. Remember, no one else in Memphis has a Festival quite like ours.