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Monday, 22 December, 2014 20:35

Entering Memphis in May

There are always a few teams that ask us questions about applying for their first time competing at Memphis in May

First on this post is all the steps we take as a team to prepare for the contest.

Second (at the bottom) is the “Crap they don’t tell you about Competing in Memphis in May” list…a conglomeration of best practices and pitfalls we have learned throughout the years.

memphis_in_may full view

Let’s start with the planning, since they are still accepting applications til the middle of February…

Application here

1. At this time you need only sign up for the entry fee and cleaning deposit, this includes
a. What category you are entered in
b. What size space you want
c. Do you want Riverside(more expensive) or a regular spot

We choose riverside for the view…


but MOSTLY for the Breeze.


2. The $500 clean up deposit. Of which $250 is returned to you upon site clean up

3. On the application it asks about wristbands, ancillaries, Big Hog, and Wednesday night tickets.
a. Wristbands can be purchased at the Cooks Meeting in April (see below)
b. Wednesday night tickets can be purchased at the Cooks Meeting in April (see below)
c. Big Hog can be purchased at the Cooks Meeting in April (see below)
d. Ancillaries can also be entered at the cooks meeting in April…but we pay them on the front end to show MIM we enter everything.
e. Cooker Caravan – Your team gives 1 tour a day of your booth to the public. You have a question and answer session, and send them off with a smile. It is totally free for the public and you meet some very interesting and cool people. It is a great program, please think about doing it
f. Kingsford Tour of Champions. You can only enter this if your team has placed top 20 at MIM before

2nd Kingsford Tour
1. Cooks meeting – first timers – go if you can…great way to network

You can add ancillaries, wed. night tickets, and 3 day wristbands up until cooks meeting in April
2. Patio Porkers get 5 – 24 hour bands
3. Regular Teams get 15-24 Hour bands

Larger teams (like TSTP) will buy your team’s extra 24 hour bands…(good way to recoup some costs or to get a keg or a case of pork paid for)

4. 3 day wristbands are only for gate hours 11AM-12AM Thurs and Fri – 11am-10pm Sat
5. Big hog package can be a waste of money for a small team, research your needs before buying…
6. Cattlemans offers free sauce to teams…sign up for it, get the maximium amount…free stuff is good stuff, and if you sign up for the max, that’s like 200 dollars worth of free bbq supplies. It includes Frenchs Mustard, Katsup, Worstershire, 5 kinds of Franks, and 6 kinds of Cattlemans.


In 2014 our costs so far were:

$4075.00 on:

1. a Riverside 26’x50′ spot in the Rib division –
2. all the Food Ancillary contests – Hot Wings, Beef, Poultry, Exotic, Seafood, Tomato Sauce, Vinegar Sauce, Mustard Sauce, Best Tshirt and Ms Piggie Idol – we did not enter best booth
3. We also grabed a Big Hog package…which gives us 2 Extra 24 hour wristbands, extra Wednesday night tickets, and extra load in passes.
AND don’t forget that $350 clean up Deposit ($500 in 2015)

Now we will discuss electricity, porto johns, Pods, flooring, tents, and Tshirts.

Electric – NONE is provided

You will need to buy Electric hookups PRIOR to the Contest. If done before April, there is usually a good discount.

120V 20amp Electric boxes are $175 each. (4 or more $150 each) Each box has 3 plugs. We need 5 boxes to run all the electric in our booth…you may need less
#1 Fridge, Grill lights, Lights in the Pod, Treagger
#2 Ice Freezer, Kitchen Lights, Cadiliac Cooker
#3 Hot water heater and sink pump, Tent Lights, Guru for Stumps Smoker
#4 Porto Cool, Electric BBQ Sign on front of booth, DJ and sound equipment
#5 Margarita Machine, Dance Floor Lights, cell phone charging station

So that’s $750

Next we gotta go to the head…and so do our guests. Two Porto Johns cost us: $262.20

Next thing – we like having an easy load in with a safe secure place to store our gear. PODS rents a 8’x8’x12′ storage container to teams. They will drop it at a location before the contest, the team loads it, then Pods comes back and delivers it to your booth at the contest. This saves teams a couple days of load in. So…$242.53

Next is Flooring and Tent. Now, Memphis in May is also known as “Memphis in Mud” to us teams. Its going to rain, either before the contest causing problems at load-in, or during the contest a foot traffic in your booth will cause a mud pit.

Muddy Land

If you don’t have a floor put in your booth, you just maybe chin deep in mud by Friday afternoon. So you have 2 options…

Lay your own floor, which is cheaper but could take a few days,

Booth with Floor Down


Rent a floor and have it professionally installed. We have built floors in the past, and we are usually one of the last teams in the park taking it out…so in 2014 we rented!

That’s $2200 for a 20ftx40ft floor lay

Add the rented Tent, Walls, Fire Permit, Chairs, Tables and delivery and setup:

That’s another 1499.10 for a 20×40 ft tent

So…add $3699.10, lets say $3700 to the pot.


Classic Party Rentals rents tents and floor…and they have a contract with Memphis in May. No other tent rental companies are allowed in the park.

Rent tents and floor BEFORE April and there is a discount. YOU NEED A FLOOR!

OR, you rent scaffolding and get one of these built

We gotta look good doing this, have a trinket to take home, and we gotta turn in a pretty shirt for the Best Tshirt contest…sooooo

Tshirts for every team member + extras ordered for family and friends….106 shirts – $1600

This is a sampling of our MIM Tshirts 2005-present


So folks that’s another $6554.44

Total spent so far 10,629.73

We will now chat about 3 day Gate Wristbands ($24) and Wednesday Night tickets ($9)

You see at Memphis in May admission is free from 11am – 1pm Thursday and Friday…but after 1pm Thursday and Friday and all day Saturday it is $8 inadvance or $9 at the Gate. Wednesday is a special night and teams can purchase up to 50 tickets at $9 each for “Friends and Family” night.

So 50 tickets at $9 is $450
AND 3day wristbands for our members are $1196

So add that to the cost so far ($10,629.73) and we are at $12,295.73

Oh it keeps adding up. Next is food, beer, booze, and supplies…That’s another $5000

TOTAL – $17,295.73 in 2014

It all leads up to this…Judging




In 2014 we placed:

1st in Vinegar Sauce

2nd in the Kingsford Tour of Champions

4th in Ms. Piggie Idol

6th in Ribs

8th in Mustard Sauce

11th in Exotic

13th in Poultry

Not bad huh?


rib presentation team

ribs 6th place

The Crap they don’t tell you about competing at Memphis in May list.

1. If you have a large trailer you want in your team booth get there the Saturday before the contest starts because once the fences go up it is dang near impossible to get that hoss into a muddy rutted out spot.

2. Put up your fence as soon as you get there…or send someone ahead to put one up ASAP – If you do not, then your empty spot will be used as a parking lot, a turn around, and a way to put a trailer into the spot behind yours. THIS SUX. The booth gets all rutted out and very nasty with mud. So prevention is the best policy

3. BRING or rent some kind of floor. You will thank me for this. They don’t call it Memphis in Mud for nothing. It has to sit above the ground. No wood chips, plywood directly on the ground, etc. We use pallets then hammer plywood over em…cheap and easy. I say bring b/c the rental company charges 48 bucks per 4ftx4ft square of flooring.

4. Get the Fire Marshall permit tag as soon as you can on Monday or Tues…DO NOT FORGET…it will be absolute HELL trying to track these guys down come Wednesday

5. Bring your own grounding wire kit for your tent, if you don’t the electricians will charge you for a kit..AND INSTALLATION…if you bring your own they will hook you in no charge

6. WATCH your team boundaries…there are some teams that will move paint and stakes to get a bigger area. I won’t name names, but it is rude and sh**ty to do. Measure your spot, then drive BIG stakes into the ground at the corners…put your fence up ASAP

7. Count on electric to not be hooked up until Tuesday afternoon…it usually gets hooked up before, but there have been snafu’s in the past. Make sure you have an alternative plan for meat, tools, light, etc

8. RENT A PORT-O-JOHN (or two), and put em in the BACK of your booth. You can thank me later for this. If your crapper is in the front people will just walk into your booth and use it without permission…not cool. If you don’t have one you will regret it when you go to relive yourself only to find overflowing crappers from the 100,000 people that used them before you. Plus all the drunks= PUKE in the public ones…NASTY

9. Beer sales end early by 9pm everyday…PLAN FOR THIS. Wed is like 6pm and Sat is 7 pm…Remember to stock up or you will be SOL…

10. Wednesday is the last day to load in…7am – NOON.  Vehicles must leave by 3pm…those of you driving in from points unknown This is the ABSOLUTE LAST time to load big stuff in…otherwise you will be hoofing it in from ½ a mile away…that is no exaggeration…½ a mile at least carrying stuff.

11. GET A WAGON – this will save you LOTS of heartache. From kegs to meat, to the 2 kids you can haul everything you need in them. A must for MIM.

12. You will need to have Blockers and runners for your entries. The crowds are thick and you will need 2 or 3 person teams to get your stuff to the judging quickly and safely.

13. You need to bring a fire extinguisher with a CURRENT INSPECTION TAG ATTACHED. They will not give you a fire permit without one.

14. All propane tanks (maximum of 2) must have a holder…a milk crate is perfect for this, without a holder…no permit

15. Bring PLENTY of bottled water. The Sams Club on site runs out…

If things go wrong with your pork entry put the beautiful portions in the blind box. (remember pork entries can have NO garnish) You have to learn to B.S. and sell your onsite judge on your product. You can talk your way out of a burnt looking rib or shoulder to an onsite judge, you can’t explain anything to the blind judges….click here to learn the MBN/MIM judging system

If any visitors or first timers need tips, please contact us and we will give you our contact info.



Posted On
Dec 23, 2014
Posted By
donald eldred

hi Neil this is Don I just wanted to drop you a short line and ask how I would be able to purchase tickets and wristbands to join your party in 2015 at Memphis in May

Posted On
Dec 26, 2014
Posted By

We don’t sell tickets and wristbands to the booth Donald. The booth is for members and guests of the team. If you are interested in joining the team for MiM please click the “join us” button in the main menu to the right of this article,we will send you all the team info.

Posted On
Mar 27, 2015
Posted By
keith pendergrass

Crosstown Neighborhood Assoc (aka Crosstown Cookers) MIM 31 years and counting !

Posted On
May 20, 2016
Posted By

This website is EXTREMELY helpful!!!! My husband & I are considering starting our own team for 2017 and found a lot of our questions to be answered from your website. However, we do have a few other questions & would love your insight when you have time.

Thank you!

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