Memphis in May Opens Team Registration for World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

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Pitmasters from around the world are welcome to register for the 2019 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest as team registration is officially open for the 42nd annual Contest held in Tom Lee Park on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis.  This year, the world-renown competition will be held May 15-18, 2019. Applications are available at, and the submission deadline is February 15, 2019.

Festival organizers typically accept approximately 235 top-tier barbecue teams in the competition, but each year the team spaces fill quickly, and late registrants may not make the cut.  This year, defending two-time World Champion, The Shed, from Ocean Springs, MS will return to attempt a “three-peat.” In 2018, The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest brought teams from twenty-three states and six foreign countries to vie for a chance at the title, fame, and prize money. 

It takes nearly 400 judges to determine the World Champion, and more than ninety newly-certified judges finished the Official Memphis in May Judges Seminar held on November 10 and joined the ranks of those qualified to serve at the upcoming Contest.

“The prestige of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is unmatched in the world of competition grilling and is a wonderful showcase of the culture and cuisine of Memphis,” said James L. Holt, president and CEO of Memphis in May. “In 2019 as we salute the rich history and culture of Memphis during its Bicentennial year, what better way to do that than enjoying our culinary trademark with guests from around the world on the banks of our beautiful riverfront in Tom Lee Park.”

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest features the championship categories of Whole Hog, Rib, and Shoulder, plus the Patio Porkers, an amateur division for those who want to test their skills before competing with the professionals.  Primary sponsors include Cattlemen’s Barbecue Sauce, Kingsford, Budweiser, and Reynolds Wrap Pitmaster’s Choice.

2019 Memphis in May International Festival Dates:

Beale Street Music Festival: May 3-5, 2019
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest: May 15-18, 2019
Great American River Run: May 25, 2019
Celebrate Memphis: May 25, 2019


About Memphis in May 
Memphis in May International Festival is a not for profit, community-based organization, whose programs in 2018 contributed more than $137.7 million in economic impact to the community, fostered civic pride, promoted awareness of Memphis heritage, and built international relationships and understanding through education. 
Memphis in May International Festival is the official festival of the City of Memphis, the recipient of 216 prestigious Pinnacle Awards from the International Festival and Events Association, and has been named to Travel+Leisure’s international list of Festivals Worth Traveling For, with the Beale Street Music Festival included as one of the World’s Top Festivals by Fest300, and listed by Forbes as one of “5 Underrated Music Festivals You Should Attend.”

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