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Save the Dates: Memphis Festivals 2017

Photo: Keith Montgomery
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Featured Photo: Keith Montgomery

Memphians are known for throwing epic festivals every month. Don’t want to miss any of them? Check out the festivals below and bookmark this post since info will be updated as festival dates are announced.

Photo: CLE Events

Photo: CLE Events

January

  • Friday, January 6 – ZaFest 3 – 6pm – 18+

ZaFEST is in its third year! Celebrate music, drinks, and pizza at the HiTone while benefitting the Summers’ family.

The Pink Palace Museum will be overflowing with the best Memphis has to offer in drinks, food, and fun. Treat yourself to a VIP ticket for access to the VIP lounge area and early entrance at 6pm. Beer vendors include: Memphis Filling Station, Ghost River, Jackalope, Memphis Brewer’s Association, Memphis Made, Midsouth Malts, Southern Prohibition, Yazoo, Schlafly, Wiseacre and more. Food vendors include: Fairbanks Steakhouse from Hollywood Casino, Bella Caffe, Elwood’s Shack, Joy Ride, Central BBQ, Sweet Grass, J Brooks, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Sushi Jimmi, On the Border of Wolfchase, South of Beale and others. Featured guests include: The Art Project, Rhodes College Physics Department, University of Memphis Chemistry Department, Bartender of the year Adam Creasy, and Kevin Cerrito from Cerrito Trivia.

School of Rock Memphis, the local leader in performance-based music education, is putting on an unforgettable evening of music at Minglewood Hall. These young musicians will pay tribute to Memphis’ top current bands by performing the artists’ original music along with the artists themselves. The show will include appearances by members of Big Star, Lucero, Star & Micey, Dead Soldiers, Memphis Dawls, James and The Ultrasounds,Marcella & Her Lovers, Ingram Hill, John Paul Keith, Susan Marshall, Amy LaVere, Mark Edgar Stuart, Jeremy Stanfill, Ryan Peel, Graham Winchester, and Laramie.

DreamFest weekend is a weekend of events dedicated to promoting Memphis Music and artist collaboration.

The first annual Crown Jewels Fest is a benefit event for Mid-South Men’s Health Org and the fight against testicular cancer. There will be a huge lineup of music from rock and punk to blues and hip hop. 
Memphis Made Beer

Photo: Amanda Hill

February

  • February 16 – 27 – The Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival
    • Thursday, February 16 “Remember” 7:30 at the Malco Paradiso in partnership with Indie Memphis
    • Saturday, February 18 “Moos” 8:00 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
    • Sunday, February 19 “Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown” 1:00pm at the MJCC Belz Theatre
    • Sunday, February 19 “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” 5:30 dinner and 6:30 film at the MJCC Belz Theatre
    • Tuesday, February 21 “Freedom Runners” 7:30 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
    • Wednesday, February 22 Shorts from Maaleh Israeli Film School “Barriers” and “The Little Dictator” 7:30 at Malco Studio on the Square
    • Thursday, February 23 “Life, Animated” 7:30 at the MJCC Belz Theatre w/ Jewish Family Service
    • Saturday, February 25 “Sabena Hijacking” 8:00 at the MJCC Belz Theatre
    • Monday, February 27 “A Blind Hero: The Love of Otto Weidt” 7:30 at the MJCC Belz Theatre

The 7th Tennessee Equality Project Gumbo Contest presented by Hilton Memphis will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2017. TEP’s annual Mardi Gras celebration brings together teams from the Western, Middle and Eastern United States to compete for the best gumbo in Memphis. Gumbo contestants will be awarded prizes by an appointed panel of judges and by individual tasters like you in the People’s Choice competition.

Drink Memphis Made beer. Eat Midtown food. Bid on cool stuff from local businesses. And the best part? It all benefits Cooper-Young’s Peabody Elementary PTA to support the arts and technology at Peabody Elementary. Wait — there’s more. It’s all happening inside one of Cooper-Young’s favorite haunts — Memphis Made Brewing Company’s Tap Room! Your ticket will get you Memphis Made brews and food from Central BBQ, Sweetgrass, Mulan, Aldo’s and Celtic Crossing. Silent auction items from local businesses. Music by DJ Zac Ives of Goner Records.

memphis comedy

March

The MusliMeMfest festival is a celebration of the community and seeks to foster an interest in building bridges and to start conversation among different communities in Memphis. Funded almost entirely by generous sponsors and supported by the City of Memphis, the MusliMeMfest is free to attend but RSVP is encouraged. MusliMeMfest welcomes vendors of all types. To become an official MusliMeMfest vendor go here.

The Memphis Comedy Festival (MCF) is a four-day celebration of stand-up comedy and the comedic arts. MCF hosts stand-up showcases, themed comedy shows, improv showcases, podcasts, informational seminars, comedy open-mics, and probably (definitely) a karaoke session. It spans a few neighborhoods and several venues and attracts thousands of Memphians.

Vintage901 is a wine, food and music festival to benefit The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. Enjoy wine tastings, tapas, salsa, soul and jazz. Vintage901’s sommelier and grand tasting host for the weekend is Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach, as seen on Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart Living and Fox Morning News.

The Young Collectors Contemporary is an annual program of Young Arts Patrons. The exhibition is recognized for providing emerging artists with the opportunity to access a diverse audience and allows collectors to engage in events and programs to build their personal collections while supporting the arts economy.

Memphis Beer

Photo: Keith Montgomery

April

Opera Memphis’ Fifth Annual Midtown Opera Festival takes place over ten days at Playhouse on the Square. It will feature three intimate operas by living American composers: John Musto’s Later the Same Evening, Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, and Hilliard & Boresi’s Blue Viola. In addition, we’ll present a one-of-a-kind performance of Arnold Scheonberg’s groundbreaking Pierrot Lunaire, art directed by Memphis’ own Joey Miller. This season’s Midtown Opera Festival will also feature workshop performances of their newest commission-in-progress, aerialists, dance performances, panel discussions, cabaret and cocktails, and more.

Celebrate Earth Day with Shelby Farms during Down to Earth Festival where you can enjoy outdoor adventure, eco-friendly exhibitors, the Go Ape Treetop Ropes Course, and more. The parking fee is $5 per vehicle. All proceeds help keep Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline clean and safe.

Enjoy tons of crawfish, live bands all day, a kids area and great shopping in the vendor market.

Celebrate Africa in April with vendors, international music, and more.

The 8th Annual Memphis Brewfest celebrates great American craft beer, and the finest, most exotic beers in the world. Beers, breweries and beer enthusiasts from the region will gather near the bluffs of the Mississippi River for a sampling of fresh beers of all colors, styles and tastes. This event has moved to Tiger Lane. All net proceeds will benefit Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

The Harbor Town Crawfish Festival benefits The Mid-South Food Bank. Enjoy 1000 lbs of crawfish, music, giveaways, and beer specials all day long.

Healthy Memphis Food Festival features local, diverse, and ethnic cuisines. Vendors offer specialty food items, farmer’s market items, arts and crafts, fine art, commercial goods, home and lifestyle goods and services, and quality imports. Bouncy houses, games, face painting, balloon artists and smaller attractions will be available for kids as well as live music for all. 

Join the Memphis Flyer at their second annual Bacon & Bourbon Festival at the Memphis Farmers Market as they celebrate two commonly appreciated southern traditions: hearty food & distilled spirits. They’ll be bringing together a variety of Memphis’ best restaurants and an array of distilled spirits brands as you savor a night of bacon, BBQ, and all the good things that come from old oak barrels.

One of Memphis’ most popular events returns Sunday, April 17, 2016 with something for everyone. In addition to over 18,000 pounds of crawfish, the event hosts a variety of vendors selling food, drinks, art and more. This year, they’re adding a new item: spicy boiled shrimp. A special thanks to the Riverfront Development Corporation for hosting the Festival again this year. As usual, no pets, coolers, tents, handouts, or parking inside the festival area.

Enjoy unique and local artwork, vendors, food trucks, beer, and live music to benefit the Broad Avenue Arts District.

The Southern Hot Wing Festival is a celebration of the chicken hot wing, the drummie, the flat, flap, and everything in between. Established in 2003 by a local Memphian who felt that the South had more to offer than just amazingly great BBQ, the Southern Hot Wing festival has become a staple event each April bringing with it the warmth and the fire to usher in the Spring. The festival will be located just south of the Tennessee Visitors Center on Riverside Drive between Jefferson and Union Avenue. Jefferson Davis Park (Jefferson and Riverside) will provide lots of green space to relax and enjoy some great music while you feast on your wings.

  • Saturday, April 22 – V&E Artwalk – 11am-6pm – Free – Family Friendly

The sixth annual V&E Artwalk will raise money and awareness for the V&E Greenline community owned trail which travels through the heart of Midtown and the Vollintine Evergreen Community. The event will feature the work of artists from all over the Greater Memphis area. Artists will be selling their creations at affordable prices and there will be a silent auction from items donated by the artists. There will be a children’s area with art activities and bounce houses. Music by local artists will be a special treat. Several types of craft beer from a Memphis micro brewery, along with a variety of wines will be available. Food offered will include grilled sausages, side items, walking tacos, barbecue smoked for this event, hot dogs and hamburgers, and vegetarian items. All proceeds from the event will go to the V&E Greenline to keep the V&E Greenline attractive and useful for all to enjoy.

Each spring, the East Buntyn ArtWalk celebrates local artists and musicians with an open-air bazaar of galleries set up in the front yards and porches of the historic east Memphis neighborhood. This unique arts fair offers visitors the opportunity to visit and engage with local artists while enjoying the hospitality of East Buntyn residents. There will be a silent auction tent featuring special items from the artists, local food trucks, live music, and more. Rain date is April 30th.

Beale Street Music Fest

Photo: James Wessels for MIM

May

Beale Street Music Festival returns for another jam-packed 3 days of music. Stay tuned for the full lineup announcement.

This two-day annual Greek Festival offers a unique opportunity to enjoy traditional food and marketplace items, sanctuary tours, live Greek music and traditional Greek dancing. Free Greek dance lessons are available. Advance tickets include a Greek meal and are available at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and other locations.

The World Championship Barbecue Fest attracts hundreds of guests every year who come to celebrate all things barbecue. Teams grill and smoke to compete for a chance at winning over $110,000 in prizes and bragging rights. Aside from the competition itself, guests can witness the popular Ms. Piggie Idol, a singing contest where participants can show off their vocal talents.

Taste the Rarity Festival features great beer, live music, food trucks, and more. Event is rain or shine and will move inside the brewery if there is inclement weather.

  • Saturday, May 27 – 901Fest – 3pm – Family friendly

This 2nd annual celebration focuses on all things local! This festival will include local performers on multiple stages, locals artists, local vendors, local food and beverages, and local merchants. An airshow will take place as well as a fireworks show over the Mississippi River. Full lineup to come.

Photo: Centro Cultural

Photo: Centro Cultural

June

Bring a blanket, take a seat on the lawn, visit with friends, listen to outstanding musical entertainment, enjoy the food, beverages and all around good time.  Enjoy a little taste of Italy, right here in Memphis.

It’s back! For the fifth year, A Day of Merrymaking in Overton Park brings food, art, music, and fun for families (and dogs!) to the Greensward. The hot air balloon will be returning, and they’ll be announcing other entertainment and activities in the coming weeks.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. There will be arts and crafts exhibitors, a car show, a kids zone, an entertainment stage, food, and more.

Eat Your Heart Happy Festival will showcase what is great about eating well. There will be live music, demonstrations, speakers on 2 stages, and a youth cooking competition. This event will benefit The American Heart Association & The Kitchen Community,

Sample from the city’s best margarita-makers, vote on your favorite, and they’ll crown a winner at the end of this second annual best ‘rita fest. Your ticket gets you entry to the event and 15 margarita samples from your favorite restaurants, with awesome entertainment. Food will be available for purchase.  There will also be a cash bar with full-sized drinks available. This festival, held in the Memphis’ Overton Park Greensward, is guaranteed to be awesome squared, rimmed with salt and served up chill! This is a 21+ event, and it’s rain or shine.

Photo: Archimania

Photo: Archimania

July

The Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis will be held in the Midtown Theatre District of Memphis, TN at Hattiloo Theatre. The festival is designed to highlight and award the contributions of women in theatre arts and showcase theatrical productions. For 3 days audiences are invited from all over the world to West Tennessee to enjoy quality theatrical performances written by women, directed by women and about women at the third biennial Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis.

The 2nd Annual Caribbean Jerk Festival is a family friendly event that will take place at Tiger Lane. There will be a variety of jerk and Caribbean foods available, live entertainment, a domino tournament, and more.

Bring your chairs and blankets and celebrate years of fun on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in a beautiful park-like setting. Enjoy live music, bbq, drinks, beer, a silent auction, and more. All proceeds go to benefit WEVL.

fomofest in memphis

Photo: FOMOFest Memphis

August

FOMOfest takes the best of Memphis music and presents it on one stage, in one day, so no one has to miss out. On any given evening Memphis offers a plethora of entertainment choices.  While much of the city sleeps our finest musicians perform–playing in small venues, late at night.  Memphis, historically famous as a music innovator and cultural leader,  continues to produce world class original music in all genres. FOMOfest’s mission is to provide a showcase for the top acts originating from and associated with Memphis. By promoting and celebrating locally originated music this will help spur the growth of a profitable, sustainable, homegrown music industry that can continue to reach out and touch the world. Stay tuned for the lineup announcement.

On Location: Memphis is a unique film festival showcasing both local and global independent films. The competitive film exhibit culminates in the awarding of multiple awards in categories including Live Action Short, Feature, Music Video, Documentary and Animated Short. Special events include music showcases at local venues.

Join in the Queen’s entertainment and revelry and celebrate Her Majesty’s visit.  Shout Huzzah as the jousters enter into combat, join musicians in a merry song, test yourself with games of skill and chance, find familiar and exotic foods, join the nobles in courtly dance, pillage with the pirates, laugh at the jesters, be amazed by magicians, and more.  Location: Shelby Farms Park Conservancy in Memphis, TN on the Mullins Station Rd. side of the park between Gates 8 and 9.  Parking entrance is Gate 10.

Best Memphis Burger Fest is the annual fundraising event for Memphis Paws, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to creating responsible pet owners and supporting rescues and animal care organizations around Memphis. Enjoy some of the best burgers in town and vote on your favorites in several categories. More info coming to the website soon.

Midsouth Pride Festival 2015

Photo: Breezy Lucia

September

The annual Church Health Center benefit concert is host to a ton of local music, food, and vendors.

Each Labor Day Weekend the Center for Southern Folklore produces the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival.  It is the Center’s signature event.  With urban Memphis as the backdrop, they showcase and celebrate the music, culture, arts, and rhythms of the Memphis/Delta region. More info to come.

Jazz lovers can enjoy the 7th Annual “Pianos in the Park Jazz Fest” presented by Strictly Jazz Entertainment. It takes place at W.C. Handy Park on historic Beale Street in downtown Memphis. Gates open at 5pm. Pianos in the Park is a family affair so feel free to bring some lawn chairs, and be ready to spend an evening enjoying smooth jazz in the great outdoors.

Outflix is a program created by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center to encourage high quality LGBT+ cinema with accurate representations of their lives on screen in order to educate the Mid-South on what the LGBT+ community truly is. The program features an annual film festival in September with year-round events leading up to it. For those familiar with the festival, a few changes have been made to the schedule by Harwood and co-director Whitney Hardy, along with a staff of over 10 volunteers, in order to improve its atmosphere as well as prepare for their 20th anniversary next year. This year’s festival will last eight days, and rather than screening films back-to-back as they have in years past, there will be breaks between films to socialize and attend other events, such as community panels. One major addition that Harwood is particularly looking forward to is the Outflix Regional LGBT Short Film Competition. The competition is now open and will close 5/31. Go here for more info. Festival details coming soon.

The Mid-South Book Festival is taking over Cooper Street for a literary street fair. Shop for books, mingle with authors, enjoy the kid’s tent, and visit the festival vendors in between panels. Food trucks will be on site, and the festival is mere steps from Overton Square. The festival will kick off on Wednesday, September 7th with a Literacy Summit (a conference for nonprofit employees, parents, grandparents, and teachers.) Other events include a Well Read Reception to kick off the weekend on Friday, the free Street Fair on Saturday, and the Mid-South Book Festival Writers Conference and Student Writers Conference on Sunday.

Thousands come back annually to Memphis to cheer for Tennessee State University and Jackson State University, lively tailgate parties, to tee off in the celebrity golf tournament, for a glimpse at women’s fall fashions, and to experience music made in Memphis and other familiar rhythms. The greatness of the SHC rests on how it connects kindred spirits – young and old – in celebration of the beauty of cultural diversity and the richness of the city’s heritage.

The Unreal Film Festival is a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genre film festival with categories for both short and feature length films. Opening for entries is now open through July 15th. Notification for winning and selected films occurs on August 1st. The festival takes place at Malco Studio on the Square.

The community will once again gather in Germantown Civic Club Complex (7745 Poplar Pike) in Germantown for arts and crafts, children’s activities, rides and games, live stage entertainment, car exhibits, community displays, the Running of the Weenies Dachshund race and festival foods for all tastes. This two day event is held rain or shine and for many is a long standing tradition of family fun and excitement. The Festival hosts nearly 400 local and regional artists and craftsmen, offering a wide range of unique items including jewelry, pottery, metal, woodwork, hand-stitched garments, paintings, photography and many other popular and trendy items such as purses, fabrics and garden accessories. Attractions include rock climbing walls, bungee jumps, inflatable moonwalks and slides as well as pony, train and kiddie rides. Children of all ages enjoy the clowns wandering the park offering balloon animals and face painting as well as the many art activities and amusements. Civic and Non-Profit Organizations will be selling mouth-watering festival food of every kind from corn dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes to catfish, brats, BBQ and much more. Live stage entertainment is scheduled for both days and offers festival goers a chance to sit and relax or tap their toes and dance. Additionally, new and classic cars will be on exhibit at the Germantown Festival from car clubs and local dealerships. Admission to the Festival is free and free shuttle bus service is available from two free parking lots located at Union University, 2745 Hacks Cross Road, and Baptist Rehabilitation Center 2120 Exeter Rd. Germantown, TN

The Literacy Rocks! Festival is an annual festival accepting and open to all regardless of gender, race, national origin, religion, age, marital status, or disability. Their mission is to promote literacy by connecting authors primarily with avid readers, book clubs, authors and publishers.  It is held in September during National Literacy Month. At the festival you can meet, engage and network with authors, book clubs and avid readers from across the nation, purchase books to support literacy, walk the book club ‘purple carpet,’ participate in games, win door prizes, have fun in the children’s corner, attend book club panel discussions, enter essay contests to win a number of prizes and awards, and more. Friday’s event is for authors and publishers only; Saturday’s event is free and open to the public.

This annual festival is a day of music, artwork, vendors, food, and more. Stay tuned for the music lineup and more.

This festival benefits the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry which delivers food weekly via bicycles to the homeless in Memphis. There will be food competitions, live music, a bloody mary contest, food trucks, beer, and more.

Centro Cultural will again partner with Caritas Village and Crosstown Arts to host their 2nd annual Tamale Fest fundraising and cultural event. The festival will take place on and around the grounds of Caritas Village at 2509 Harvard Avenue. The festival will have main stage live entertainment, a tamale team cooking contest led by local tamale-making experts, a tamale tasting tent, a kids’ activity corner, art vendors, food trucks and a tamale photo booth.

Celebrate with this annual free festival, live entertainment, kids area, food and merchandise vendors at festival site at 4th & Beale St.

Gonerfest is an annual music festival hosted by Goner Records, an independent record label in Memphis. The festival showcases Goner-related bands from around the world across a diverse range of genres in conjunction with an art show featuring works by artists from all over the country. There’s also a delicious assortment of food and beer including crafts from Memphis’ very own Memphis Made Brewery.

The Bona Fide Blues Festival will take place at Overton Square. Stay tuned for the line up details.

Photo: Moon River Festival

Photo: Moon River Festival

October

In honor of the King Biscuit Blues Festival, Blues Week and Bridging the Blues, Beale Street will celebrate with the Road to the Biscuit, a collaborative event bridging local and King Biscuit Blues Festival artists in over 14 venues.

Moon River Festival, founded by Memphis-native, and beloved folk-singer Drew Holcomb, takes place at the Levitt Shell. Lineup to be announced.

The 45th annual Pink Palace Crafts Fair is the largest juried arts and crafts fair in the Mid-South and will include plenty of shopping, demonstrations, food, entertainment, and family activities.  Advance tickets are available at the Pink Palace box office at discounted prices.

This event takes place in the historic Soulsville USA district on College & McLemore. Enjoy live music, dance demos, kids activities, food and craft vendors, a rock climbing wall, face painting, and more.

Memphis is celebrating its culinary excellence by showcasing exceptional local chef talent and welcoming acclaimed regional and national chefs. Enhancing this lineup will be vintners, certified sommeliers and enlightening wine enthusiasts. While festival goers sip and sample from the best, they will also enjoy a buffet of blues, jazz and rock ‘n roll. This event will benefit the FedExFamilyHouse. The FedExFamilyHouse is truly a home away from home for out-of-town families with children receiving treatment at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

The Cooper Young Beerfest will have over 20 brews to try during its fourth year at Midtown Autowerks.  Tickets go on sale starting September 1st. Each ticket comes with a mug and all you can drink beer samples. Every ticket holder must be 21 years of age or older with a valid ID. Designated drivers will get in for free, but must be 21 years or older with a photo ID. No pets or children will be allowed at the festival. Brewers from across the country will come to Memphis to serve beers to you alongside some local favorites.

  • October 27 – 29 – RiverArtsFest – Family Friendly – Prices vary

RiverArtsFest is a street celebration of original fine arts, real Memphis music and great southern food with attractions and activities for all ages. More than 170 fine artists from around the country gather to exhibit and sell their latest original works in what’s become the largest outdoors juried artists market and urban street festival in the Mid-South.

Photo: Breezy Lucia

Photo: Breezy Lucia

November

Indie Memphis connects and inspires indie filmmakers and film-lovers all over Memphis. The year-round organization is best known for its annual Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., which transforms the city into a connecting point for filmmakers, musicians, artists, and audiences. This festival brings a broad range of independent features, documentaries and short films to Memphis from all corners of the country. More details to come.

Get your holiday shopping done early at this free curated exhibition and sale of handmade arts and crafts from talented local craft vendors. Enjoy handmade arts and crafts, shopping opportunities, as well as a great selection of beers available for purchase.

Photo: Frank Chin

Photo: Frank Chin

December

Memphis’ massively successful Grilled Cheese Festival will return for a 3rd year with all proceeds benefiting ALIVE Memphis Rescue. The general admission ticket or donation gets you into the festival for plenty of samples and live music, and the HiTone will have two bars open, selling drinks for those 21+. Attendees will experience 24 teams of grilled cheese masters trying to win in one of five cheesy categories. Teams will compete for Most Ridiculous, Most Cheesiest, Best Tomato Soup, Fan Favorite, and Best All Around. The Fan Favorite will be decided by, of course, the fans. Each team will have a donation box at their table, and you are encouraged to give a donation to your favorite. The team with the most donations will win the award, but all of the money from each team’s donation box goes towards ALIVE Memphis Rescue.

Know about a festival or fundraiser that should be on this list? Submit it here for consideration.

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Well, ok, not everything, but we try to keep a close pulse on the great things going on in the city, and it is our joy to share those things with you, three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). No spam, cross our hearts.