Many souls grace the Cooper-Young Festival with their presence every year on the intersection of the two colliding streets in Memphis, TN. With music and liquor everywhere, there wasn’t a shortage of talent. There is no secret that the festival has grown exceptionally over the years where it started with basically those who lived in the neighborhood to more than 135,000 people in 2015. With the amplified numbers of the festival, many special talents have used this particular platform to show off their many gifts. Not only is the festival a platform, but also with the booming numbers and expansion the cost of booths have went from $185 dollars to $200 in a year, according to the Cooper-Young site. So if you are a beginning artist, booth costs and materials to operate could be extensive. There were over 200 booths, but more of people selling their items without booths.
While at the festival, there was a crazy haired, rainbow pants wearing man named Uncle Funky. Like many others that attended, he has a wonderful creative mind that has sent him far
and high. While walking through the festival, dying of heat, he caught everyone’s eye with his funny personality and eccentric sense of style. Uncle Funky explains that he travels around Memphis to sell his hand- crafted bags that are made from jeans, leather, bottle caps, t-shirts, shoes laces, and etc. from him walking the streets of the city. Other more expensive material like leather he has to get funded, by family members or friends. Having been homeless multiple times and right now staying with a close friend, he always walks to different areas to sell his items and get donations. He came to the festival specifically to get donations to make more bags, and says “I only received 20 dollars so far, but it’s still early.” He explained that there is a drawback with everything, “I go from different hospitals and small centers to sell my bags once a month and sometimes people buy and some don't. I just hope for the best and keep making bags. Creating is what keeps me together."
The festival isn't just for the young and party-goers, but 97 percent are there for their businesses, according to the Cooper-Young stats of the past years. Whether from Memphis or a straggling by-stander locals will go to each booth to see things they like and ask how they were created or how the idea came to be. That’s the genius behind the madness. “I came from Eureka Springs to the festival because of the opportunities that get presented to you here.” said Sylvia Sanders, Owner of Mad Hatters. “I honestly have spent my last on products and never thought they would work out. When I came here and the uniqueness of my hats were recognized that's when my business started picking up a lot.” Sanders has been making hats since she was in her 20s, but as she explained was just hobby, then became a career as she got more experience.
Cooper-Young is more than less becoming a platform for beginning artist. Whether musically, creatively most have looked forward to this upcoming event to get their name out.