• Home
  • Blog
  • Memphis in May – World Championship Barbecue Cooking Competition – 2023

Memphis in May – World Championship Barbecue Cooking Competition – 2023

Hey there Squirrel BBQ Fans, as expected- the next exciting news for Memphis in May is upon our doorstep, and it’s time to spill the beans. If you haven’t been checking up on the latest news about the World Championship of Barbecue lately, it’s time to find out some news that we can all be glad to share. Here’s what you need to know about the 2023 MIM lineup news so far…

Triumphant Return To Tommy Lee Park!

Tommy Lee Park aerial view

No- not that bad-boy drummer Tommy Lee that is still making headlines around the world, although he does appreciate BBQ ribs!

It seems that Tommy Lee Park has been a favorite for the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest as far back as 2019 and earlier. Apparently, the riverside property simply wasn’t up to speed on much-needed renovations that are all part of the Memphis River Parks Partnership program.

It was led by the efforts of Mayor Jim Strickland and George Abbott (director of external affairs at Memphis River Parks) with a whopping $60 million park redesign and upgrade. This has now provided existing areas and expanded developments at Tommy Lee Park to accommodate the needs of one of their biggest BBQ festival revenues in all of Memphis! With more than 80% of the construction that has already been completed, MIM has already signed up 100% for 2023!

Concerns About Space For MIM 2023

As many big projects often foretell, CEO and (MIM President) Jim Holt was weary of the promises claimed by the Memphis River Park Program. Holt was worried that the new construction would inhibit enough space for the beloved MIM Festival. His concerns were even voiced to the Memphis City Council when he claimed that it would “put his festivals in jeopardy”. This was immediately confirmed that more than enough space was expanded!

This year, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest has more than 57% more space available for barbecue teams. This provides a total of 10,182 linear feet for competitors to work within. There is an additional 12.3% of open lawn space for the BBQ cooking contest for spectators which totals 308,764 square feet! Now that’s a party! Additionally, the Beale Street Music Festival has three separate areas that have all been expanded likewise.

An Environmental Issue?

Festivals are often a big concern for park areas that have plenty of green grass. The issue that has recently been revealed is concerning crowds for MIM 2023. Yet nobody knows for sure whether this will affect the freshly created lawn areas will be trampled into Woodstock-like mud pits… The efforts to preserve the park have further been secured by Holt with liability insurance that covers $1 million for any damage to the park.

There is also an additional $500,000 that has also been provided by the Memphis City Council for additional wear and tear. There is an additional $ 300,000 that is going into the park provided by the ‘partnership’ for protective fencing. They will even have a $50,000 sunset canopy to protect grassier areas for the event. All in all, it appears that supposed damage control is already being considered for the upcoming event.

Patio Porkers Is Relocated

One of the prime events at MIM is one such contest that has drawn big crowds in the past and is of course dubbed: Patio Porkers and has luckily been spared the chopping block. As previously reported, Patio Porkers was initially struck from the overall event. Luckily, it has found a new location within the Beale Street Music Festival area. This is good news since the Three Stages that will showcase a variety of bands for MSMF will include an exciting line-up for this year’s festival!

This news comes recently with music legends including Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin fame), Earth, Wind, & Fire, and Los Lobos! You can see a sneak peek at the partial list from this trusted source of music news.

What’s New At MIM For 2023?

Memphis in May 2023 prize money

Aside from improvements and the relocation to Tommy Lees Park from the previous year’s Liberty Park, the biggest draw for competitors is the $145,000 in World Champion prize money! Oddly enough for the previous MIM BBQ events, more than 232 competing teams were allowed to apply and participate. And though more than a couple hundred have already applied, there is now a cap on how many teams will be selected for the competition.

According to Jim Holt, there will only be 150 teams total for the main BBQ contests. This is supposedly due to the amount of space allotted within Tommy Lee Park. However, this number was dramatically lower in 2022 with only 102 teams competing. The main contests that will return once again include the following barbecue cook-off categories:

  • Ribs, Shoulder, and Whole Hog competitions
  • Patio Porker on Beale
  • Kingsford Tour of Champions
  • Ancillary competitions- Anything but categories
  • Sauce categories
  • Ancillary categories- Best booth, Best T-shirt, Best Piggie Idol

Beale Street Music Festival

Beale Street Music Festival at Memphis in May event

This event will be located in the Handy Park section within Tommy Lee Park and is luckily free to the public. The scheduled list of performers hitting the stages for three days are indeed impressive. Another event that was rumored to be cut from the BSMF was the Blues Stage, but this was quickly rebuked by CEO Jim Holt. It was a lack of attendance from the 2022 Liberty Park location that saw much lower attendance likely due to the location in mid-town Memphis.

You can get more updated info at their official website for more announced acts for the festival.

What To Expect At MIM 2023

Crowd in Memphis in May festival

Every festival is going to have rules and this you can and can’t do, but since this is a completely renovated location, Tommy Lee Park officials and MIM staff want folks to be safe. So you might want to get familiar with the list of items that are allowed and not allowed for this year’s event.

Among the highlights of things not allowed include:

  • Selfie Sticks
  • Drones
  • Water Guns
  • Recording equipment (not including cell phones that have 4K recording cameras)
  • Bad Attitudes (since the only stinkers allowed at MIM are the swine that get barbecued)

You can check the official list right here, to make sure you aren’t bringing something that might put the newly renovated park in jeopardy.

Let’s roll out upcoming event coverage for MIM


all previous related coverage can be found here:





About the Author

Follow me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}