MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Southern Heritage Classic is now just days away. After last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19, this year’s classic comes during a surge of cases from the Delta variant.
Organizers say they have plans to keep attendees safe.
The classic’s founder Fred Jones said people are really looking forward to this year’s classic but even with all the anticipation organizers say safety comes first.
“The Classic never left. It’s in the hearts and souls of everybody that have ever been to the Classic,” Jones said.
Although the Classic is back, things won’t be back to normal, especially as Shelby County works to slow the spread of the Delta variant.
“We encourage everybody to wear their masks except when they’re eating or drinking indoors or outdoors,” Jones said.
Jones says they’ve worked closely with the health department to adhere to all guidelines to keep attendees safe.
“I know a lot of the folks who put on these large events are very cognizant of that, they understand the importance, they will be pushing that message as well and they have been pushing that,” said Dr. Michelle Taylor, director of the Shelby County Health Department.
They want to make sure everyone does their part to keep old traditions alive and start new ones, as this year’s matchup will feature new head coaches Deion Sanders and Eddie George.
“They’re meeting for the first time in Memphis. That goes without saying, so it’s been absolutely tremendous,” Jones said.
It’s an opportunity to show a nationwide audience all that Memphis has to offer.
“We have a big package, and the Classic brings all of that together where you can enjoy and really spotlight and highlight all that is good about Memphis,” Jones said.
The tailgate for this year’s event sold out quickly and thousands are expected to make their way to Memphis in just days.
Although ESPN’s “First Take” cancelled its live appearance in Memphis, Jones says the city will still be featured on the show.