"...to promote the City of Memphis as a great place to live and work, and to cause an annual celebration in honor of that industry and people of the Mid-South..."

Carnival Memphis

In 1931 Memphis and the Mid-South, like the rest of our country, were in the throes of the Great Depression. Many were out of work and the region's primary asset, cotton, was selling for pennies a pound. The prosperity of the Mid-South was dependent on cotton and measures had to be taken to increase the use of this precious commodity. At the same time, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce was having trouble raising money to compete with other cities in the South. A. Arthur Halle and a group of businessmen called on Herbert Jennings, a downtown theatre manager for a donation. Jennings agreed to contribute and shared an idea that he believed would help promote business and draw attention to cotton. To help publicize an upcoming movie, Jennings offered local retailers the opportunity to display cotton goods in his theatre and planned to encourage them to use their own store windows to promote cotton clothing. Halle was intrigued by the idea and envisioned a larger city-wide promotion and called his friend, Everett Cook who was President of the Cotton Exchange. Cook was invited to come to the theatre to hear the ideas. Those ideas quickly grew into a plan for a grand celebration with a King, Queen and Royal Court that would involve people from all over the Mid-South. The idea was to promote the use and wearing of cotton products which would lead to increased demand and stimulate sales. It worked, as people began to demand more cotton products from socks to ball gowns and the rest as they say, is history.

Today, the mission of Carnival remains much the same as it was in 1931. To recognize and promote an industry that has a major economic impact on the Mid-South community, and to promote the City of Memphis as a great place to live and work, and to cause an annual celebration in honor of that industry and the people of the Mid-South. Over twenty years ago we dropped the Cotton from our name, since the community had grown in such tremendous ways, and our economy became more diversified. We accomplish this goal through our Three C's : Commerce, Community, Celebration. Part of our celebration is the King, Queen, and Royal Court, just as in 1931. The Royal Court is made up of young women mostly Freshmen in College. The Queen is a young lady at least a couple years older, and the King is a prominent business leader from the current year's saluted industry. Carnival Week is usually the first week of June, commencing the Friday after Memorial Day. Adding to the pageantry of our celebration are the Ten Grand Krewes of Carnival which have coronations and parties celebrating their King, Queen and Court as well.

For more information about Carnival Memphis, visit www.carnivalmemphis.org.

Article courtesy of Carnival Memphis