Above, Helen Hudson (10), Ginny Bratton (10), Celia Stem (10), Bennett Vaughan (10), and Sarah Bratton (10) enjoy Cooper Young Festival in 2016.
If you haven’t already, it’s about time to mark your calendars for the Cooper Young festival on Sept. 16. Whether you have never been before or simply want to find out more, here are some of the best things to see, eat, and do at the festival.
Every year around mid-September I find myself wistfully scrolling through carefully cultivated Instagram posts of pronto pups, mural art, and live music, only to ask myself the same question: why did I miss the Cooper Young Festival again? This year, however, I will not be making the same mistake I have the last sixteen; I will be attending the 30th annual Cooper Young Festival.
But, a newbie like myself needs tips and suggestions about where to go and what to see, so I talked to a few Cooper Young veterans to find out what food, music, and shopping to look for this year.
To start, the hundreds of unique vendors make it hard to choose which ones to take the time to check out. Caroline Ciaramitaro (12) says, “I remember I was really excited when I saw the Grrlpunch booth a couple of years ago because I always get excited when there are things I haven’t seen.” Caroline suggests taking a look at the more unique or local artists that Cooper Young has to offer, especially if you have never seen their work before. Ruby Liles (10) always stops by the BEBO booth, which features fun and colorful folk art made from sawmill lumber and similar materials.
Additionally, many Memphis music fans are especially excited for this year’s musical lineup, which even includes the bands Star & Micey and The Band Camino.
After all the walking and shopping tends to become exhausting, be sure to grab a bite at one of the many food options featured at the festival. Though the restaurants tend to get pretty busy around noon, Young Avenue Deli, Sweet Grass, and Cafe Ole are great places to eat in the area. But, if you can’t snag a seat there, then definitely stop by the beloved French crepe booth.
When asked what time of day is best to go, Ruby Liles says, ”It gets really crowded and really hot around 2 p.m., so I would recommend going in the morning, shopping until noon, and then popping into a restaurant for lunch. By the time it gets super crowded, you will probably have already been to most of the things that were top priority.”
Veteran Cooper Young goers also suggest dressing for warm weather, bringing cash, and planning on meeting with a friend who lives near the festival to walk together instead of trying to park nearby.
Cooper Young Festival will be held on Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with free admission. Whether you’re a Cooper Young first-timer like me, or you never miss it, the festival promises a day full of great music, food, and shopping for anyone.