The Cooper-Young Festival draws thousands to the Memphis neighborhood

34e The annual Cooper-Young Festival returned on Saturday as thousands of people strolled through one of Memphis’ best-known neighborhoods to visit various vendors, listen to live music and food and drink offerings.

Attendees battled the heat and waded through the crowds visiting vendors who offered local artwork, clothing, jewelry, even job information and information about local organizations. Foods such as burgers and hot dogs sizzled, and ice cold water and drinks helped keep patrons cool.

Memphian Dominique Bingham is a regular attendee of Cooper-Young Fest and said Saturday was one of the first times her family has been out since the pandemic.

“We review everything,” Bingham said. “We don’t buy everything, but we look at each table because it is unique. Nothing is really the same.”

The annual event dates back to 1988 and serves as a fundraiser for the Cooper-Young Business Association, which represents 187 companies.

The day-long festival kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday with a parade from the Cooper-Young Trestle at the intersection of Cooper and Young, featuring Bellevue Middle School’s 32-piece drum line. The event ended at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday’s festivities were expected to draw around 130,000 people. The festival featured more than 400 vendors and two live music stages, including Memphis-area singer-songwriter headliner Bailey Bigger, as well as Mark Stuart, Wyly Bigger and Danny Banks.

Another benefit of the festival is the opportunity for new businesses to showcase their products in front of thousands of Memphians. On Saturday, that included M-Town Merchandise, which opened nearly two years ago.

Co-owners Brannon Hobbs and Brandon Westmoreland started Memphis’ “edgiest” merchandising business because they couldn’t find the clothes they wanted on the local market. Their offerings include t-shirts, hats, hoodies and jerseys, many of which feature “M-Town” in different colors.

Other garments paid homage to the city’s past and present, such as the all-green “Summer Avenue” shirt or the “Crystal Palace” shirt in honor of Memphis’ closed ice rink.

“A lot of Memphis merchandise that we saw for football games, basketball games weren’t really things we wanted, or we had something we wanted to release, but it wasn’t there “, said Hobbs. “So we thought why not do it ourselves. That’s what we did and we’re releasing it to share with everyone so they can release it with the rest of the world.

Hobbs said the company chose #MTownProud as the hashtag to let people know they should be proud of their city and all the good things that happen in Memphis.

“We know a lot of negative things have happened in the city, but there are so many good people and good businesses and everything else in the city and we want to show those things,” Hobbs said.

The already high traffic due to the festival is expected to increase throughout the day with the University of Memphis football team playing later in the evening against Arkansas State at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. Memphis police previously said Cooper Street would be closed from Central Avenue to Walker Street and all side streets would be blocked off.

For the Cooper-Young Amanda Yarbro-Dill Community Association, the festival offers the nonprofit a chance to remind people of their existence and their goals as a nonprofit.

“We just want to be present here since we are an active community association,” Yarbro-Dill said. “We want people to know we exist, but if they can buy some merchandise from us, that helps. We are a very small non-profit organization, so any little bit that we can get helps us. Just to let people know that we’re trying to make Cooper-Young a better and more fun place to live.

One of the favorite traditions of the Cooper-Young Festival in Yarbro-Dill is that people come to his neighborhood house every year.

“We’ll tell everyone hey if you need to go to the bathroom, stop by our house,” she said. “We always have a cooler with beer. For me, that’s the best part.

Omer Yusuf covers the Ford Project in Haywood County, residential real estate, tourism and banking for The Commercial Appeal. He can be contacted by email. [email protected] or follow on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.

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