Park Life Blog

Volunteer Spotlight: International Paper

Last week, our friends at International Paper visited Shelby Farms Park to help improve the Beaver Lake Picnic Area! This hard working crew helped resurface the picnic area with gravel, neatly arranged the tables, and added mulch to the trees surrounding this scenic spot.

This work will not only improve the appearance of this area, but it will also make it an even more enjoyable place to visit year round!

Thank you, International Paper!

Want to learn more about bringing your corporate group to volunteer at the Park? Contact Darlon Wakefield at  Keep up with all the other opportunities on our volunteer page.

Posted by Rebecca Dailey at 05 October 2022


This is a very exciting week at Shelby Farms Park!  We are proud to be the site for the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis and can’t wait to host more than 2,400 elite athletes and more than 5,000 spectators on Saturday, October 1 for this special event.  These triathletes will be swimming, biking, and running in and around the Park.  

On Saturday, all traffic must enter off of Mullins Station. The Park is open on Saturday, but please note that the entire Park will be impacted by this event and your time at the Park will not be what you regularly experience. Be prepared for additional traffic, delays and road closures in and around the Park.  CLICK HERE for the traffic impact guide and CLICK HERE for course maps. Only Gate 10 off of Mullins Station and the Dog Park will be open to the public for access until 4pm.

Remember to pack your patience and to be careful and courteous as you maneuver through traffic and parking areas! Spectators are welcome to visit the IRONMAN Expo and cheer on the athletes.
CLICK HERE for the week’s full event schedule.  

Monday through Wednesday
Load in and set up  - Watch for equipment, trucks, trailers.

Great View Drive N. closes at the three-way at Pine Lake Drive .

Athlete check in
IRONMAN Expo opens.

Practice swim for registered athletes.
IRONMAN Expo open.


Race day! 

Tear down and move out.

Posted by Lawrence Shaw at 26 September 2022

Summer Fun in the Park

Tuesday, June 21 is the official start of summer and Shelby Farms Park is your official headquarters for summer fun.   

Ready to start playing?  Plan your play day here. 

Want a little more info?  Check out our bucket list so you don’t miss out on a single adventure at the Park.

Boat rentals - Yippee kayak! Paddling the Park is a great way to beat the heat.  Whether you want canoes, kayaks, SUPs or paddleboats, our team will help you paddle the day away! 

Canoes + Cocktails - This event is the hottest ticket in town and has the best views of Memphis sunsets from iconic Hyde Lake! Enjoy a guided evening sunset paddle on the lake followed by socially-distant cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, yard games and music. We do it every Friday evening through September, but tickets go fast.  Grab yours here

Bike rentals - Cruise through the Park’s paved trails on a bike! We have several adult sizes, plus kids’ bikes and trailers.  Our team will help fit you with the perfect sized bike to comfortably enjoy your day at the Park.  Rent your bikes here

MEMPopS - Looking for a yummy treat after all the fun in the sun? Pop over to the Lake’s Edge Gift Shop and check out the days’ MEMPopS choices. 

Water Play Sprayground - It’s the coolest place in town! The Water Play Sprayground has four hours of come and go play time.Water Play Tuesday sessions are one (1) hour of FREE play time!  Click here to book your morning or afternoon play session of great splashing opportunities. 

Woodland Discovery Playground - The Playground is open!  We missed play days, but are excited that this well-loved space is now open for fun daily from 9am to an hour before sunset. 

Climbing Boulders - While the Playground was closed, we were busy adding a little fun by installing two new kids’ boulders! These climbing boulders are 7 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter and have hand and footholds carved into the surface with varying levels of difficulty.  Want to learn more?  Click here

Fitness Classes - From pilates to tai chi, you’ll see it in our summer line up of free fitness classes. 

We are serving up fun daily from sunrise to sunset and we can’t wait to see you in the Park this summer! 

at 21 June 2022

Busy weekend ahead!

Shelby Farms Park is proud to have been selected as the site for the Memphis in May Triathlon, and we can’t wait to welcome athletes and spectators to the Park on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, 2022 for this special event! These triathletes will be swimming*, biking and running in and around the Park, and if you plan to visit this weekend, we recommend checking out the info below as your time at the Park may not be what you typically experience.

This weekend…

  • The Park will be open with regular hours on both days

  • The entire Park and surrounding access points will be impacted by this event 

  • Getting into the Park may take more time than usual

  • Accessing activities and amenities within the Park may not be what you regularly experience and may take more time than usual

  • Please pack your patience

  • Please be alert for runners, bikers and spectators

  • Be prepared for temporary traffic, delays and road closures in and around the Park  


Check out the map below to help plan your visit:

Good luck, athletes! 

*Swimming and wading at Shelby Farms Park are not permitted outside of sanctioned, supervised events.

at 12 May 2022

How to Spend Your Extra Hour of Park Fun!


Mark your calendars! Daylight Saving Time is right around the corner! Starting March 13th, we will all have one extra hour of daylight. Spend it wisely and use those 60 minutes doing something fun and active with us at Shelby Farms Park!

Here are 7 things to do at Shelby Farms Park with your extra hour of sunlight.

  1. Group workouts not your thing? Ride a bike or take a hike on the Shelby Farms Greenline! With more time on your hands, there’s no reason not to hit these 10+ miles of trail and get the most out of your day. Get more details here or find your bike here.

  2. Bring the whole family! Daylight saving time affects the kids too, so why not bring them along. Hit up the Woodland Discovery Playground and let the kids enjoy the extra hour jumping and climbing and having fun being a kid. Get more details here.

  3. And don’t forget about the pup! Let go of the leash and let your dog enjoy the Outback Off-Leash Dog Park.  Find some fresh air for everyone! Be sure to give our rules and tips a glance here before visiting.

  4. Tired of being stuck inside during chilly, dark winter evenings? Pack a picnic for dinner! There’s no better combo than fresh air and fresh food, so get a group together and rent a pavilion to optimize your day and get outside! We have all been waiting for the day when it isn't dark at five or six, and it’s finally here, so don’t waste a moment of it!

  5. Don’t forget that once it warms up, you can start using your extra spring hours doing even more at Shelby Farms Park. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard! Go fishing! We have 20+ lakes and ponds, so don’t hesitate to hit the water this spring! See all your options hereThe Hyde Lake and Pine Lake boat houses are closed for the season but will reopen in Spring 2022!  

  6. Warmer weather and longer days mean it will also be perfect conditions to hit the trails and go horseback riding here at Shelby Farms Park. Learn how to saddle up here.

  7. And finally, Go Ape on our treetop adventure, which is now open! Swing into spring and traipse through trees on these obstacle courses and ziplines. Learn how to book your session here.

With so much to do, there’s no reason to stay cooped up inside! Make the most of your day, every day, and spend your extra hours with us at Shelby Farms Park this spring!

at 08 March 2022

Meet Dewayne Williams!

We are excited to announce that Dewayne Williams has joined the Shelby Farms Park team as Director of Park Operations! In this role, Dewayne will oversee the daily maintenance and operation of the Park’s vast acres, buildings and amenities as well as the 10.65 miles of Shelby Farms Greenline.

Dewayne joins the Park from Hernando, Mississippi, where he served as Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Hernando for more than 15 years.  During his time there, he created a thriving parks and recreation department which includes ten parks and programs which draw more than 4,000 participants annually.

"Dewayne brings a wealth of both leadership and public parks experience to our team," said Jen Andrews, CEO of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy. "His passion for people and for parks makes him a great fit, and we're excited to see the impact of Shelby Farms Park and Greenline grow with his leadership." 

Dewayne received an undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi,  a graduate of the National Parks and Recreation Association’s (NRPA) Directors School and holds an NRPA Leadership Certificate. He is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional and a former member of the Mississippi Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) where he served as president and was named Professional of the Year.



Check out these honors!


We talked with Dewayne about what brought him to Shelby Farms Park and what he plans to accomplish at one of America’s largest urban parks!

How did you get started working in the wonderful world of parks? 
My start in parks began at a Boys and Girls Club board meeting. I was the Director of a Boys and Girls Club in Southaven, Mississippi, and the mayor at the time was a board member of the club. He told me the City of Hernando wanted to start a parks and recreation department and he believed I could do the job. In January 2006, I started in the role of Director of Parks and Recreation.

How long have you worked in this field? 
16 years

Why were you interested in joining the team at Shelby Farms Park? 
I had heard of and been to the Park and was always impressed with the Park. I love challenges, engaging with people and creating. I was able to use my skills of creativity, gathering people and vision casting to create a vibrant park system in Hernando when there was no park system or programs for citizens to enjoy. Because Shelby Farms Park is a place that faces challenges with collaboration, creativity, strategy, and execution, I knew I wanted to join the team. 

What are you most excited about? 
I am most excited about working with an organization that provides world class service to the public and provides world class culture for the people inside the organization.

What do you hope to accomplish at the Park? 
I have two objectives. I want to add value to this amazing team and to execute the mission of the Park. Lastly, I will position the Park to be able to start the next phase of growth! I like how forward thinking the team is at Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.

When you aren’t working at the Park, what can we find you doing? 
I believe in doing what you enjoy. My hobbies are hooping, blues music, dancing and hanging out with family and friends.

Three words to describe yourself:
Community, Funny and Active

Three words to describe Shelby Farms Park:
Innovative, Inspiring and Intentional 

Where is your favorite place in the Park? 
Just south of Heart of the Park where the area is very natural with trees and water. 

Tell us about your Involvement with the National Recreation and Park Association and  Mississippi Recreation and Park Association:
I have been a member of the NRPA for many years. I am a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, A graduate of The NRPA Directors School, and I have the NRPA Leadership Certification. I was also a member of Mississippi Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) for many years. I was Professional of the Year and I served as the president of the organization.


If you see Dewayne out and about in the Park, please be sure to give him a warm welcome!

at 07 February 2022

Time to Shine at Starry Nights

Starry Nights will be shining brightly on select nights through Saturday, January 1, 2022 (and during the grand finale BuffaGLO Run on January 2, 2022, presented by Sylvamo), and we've put together some quick tips and reminders to help you plan and enhance your experience! Check out the info below, and if you need more info, head to the Starry Nights event page for full calendar, event details, tickets, FAQ and more!


This year, there is only one entrance to the event, so all cars should enter Starry Nights from Farm Road onto Great View Drive North through the Park’s main gate. As you arrive, tune your radio to 100.9 FM for event instructions.

As we get closer to Christmas, lines will be longer and so will wait times. We're working hard to keep traffic flowing without rushing guests through the lights, so please pack your patience and be kind in line

To help keep things moving and to reduce your wait time, please arrive during your selected arrival window time. While this window will not totally eliminate the possibility of a wait, it will reduce the overall time you spend in line. Note: Arriving earlier or later than your window places you in a different time slot and will increase your wait time.  

Want to know approximately where you are in line? These locations mark roughly estimated wait times from that point to the ticket booth (actual time in line may vary):
Main Entrance Gate (Farm Road and Great View Drive North intersection): approximately 30 minutes
Walnut Grove and Farm Road intersection / Mullins Station Road and Farm Road intersection: approximately 90 minutes


As you enter the event, please dim your headlights and stay in your vehicle inside of Starry Nights. The show’s route is 1.5 miles long and it takes approximately 30 minutes to drive through. While all of the light displays in Starry Nights are photo-worthy, there are only three designated photo opp stops. Here, you can park your car, snap a quick photo and return to the route. If you’re making a Selfie Stop, follow the tips below to help ensure everyone has a bright and enjoyable experience!

Want to see the lights at a slower pace?
Join us for our next Walk the Lights night on Monday, December 27,
then for the grand finale on January 2 for the BuffaGLO Run, presented by Sylvamo!



  • Stay in your vehicle until you arrive at one of the three Photo Opp Stops:
    • Igloo - presented by nexAir
    • Hernando de Soto Bridge - presented by I Love Memphis
    • Santa Hat - presented by brother
  • Please park only in the designated parking areas for these displays
  • Make it snappy so that everyone can enjoy the displays
  • Do not leave or walk around outside of the designated Selfie Station and Selfie Station parking areas
  • Please do not touch or climb on the displays


Whether you already have a ticket or need to purchase a ticket, all cars should enter Starry Nights from Farm Road on to Great View Drive North through the Park’s main gate. If using a navigation system, use the intersection of "Farm Road + Great View Drive North " as the reference point in your location search. Note: Your system may attempt to reroute you around traffic to another Park gate, but you may only enter through the Park's main gate. Look for the Starry Nights sign at the entrance!


  • If you have little ones in your vehicle, extra toys and snacks may come in handy to entertain and help pass the time as you make your way to the event!
  • The closest portable restroom is located near the ticket booth.
  • Fill up with gas before you come! 
  • Dim your headlights as you enter the light show route.
  • Remember to pack your patience and be kind in line.

Your presence at Starry Nights is a present for Shelby Farms Park! Starry Nights is the largest annual fundraiser for Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline. Proceeds from this event help keep these community treasures open and operating for more than 6 million visitors a year. Thank you for your support and for spending part of your holiday season with us!

Starry Nights 2021 is made possible by




 Huey's Restaurants  Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance  NewSouth Capital Management

Media + In-Kind Partners
Cumulus Media • Standard Construction Co.  Tennessee Tractor • WREG

Posted by Rebecca Dailey at 15 December 2021

2021 Buffalo Run 5K Recap

Caring for a space that's as special as Shelby Farms Park is a big responsibility, and we're so grateful for the 300+ runners who stepped up (literally!) to help support it! Their participation in the 2021 Buffalo Run 5K directly supports the trails, lakes, green spaces and iconic buffalo herd that you love. 


Thank you, volunteers!

This event would not have been possible without the support of volunteers. From packet pickup to post-event cleanup, a lot of hands helped the event run smoothly! Thank you to the 50+ Park fans who gave the gift of their time to make this event possible!

Shelby Farms Park Conservancy is responsible for raising 75% of the Park's $5+ million operating budget each year, and this wouldn't be possible without the generosity of supporters and donors!

While every participant's race registration fees provide vital support, runners had the option to fundraise for the event. We are proud (and grateful!) that these efforts brought in more than $2,000!
This year's top fundraisers:
Connor Hawthorne
Diane Roberts
Kat Schwartz
Leslie Cacaro
Linda Hughes

To see a photo recap from the event, click here!

This year's Buffalo Run 5K + Bison Day Celebration would not have been possible without the support of these sponsors and partners: 

Velo Shelby Farms, Regional One Health, Financial Federal, Siskind Susser, OrthoSouth, Comcast Internet Essentials, Exercise Unlimited, Club Pilates, Grivet Outdoors, 88.5 FM, Bluff City Balloon, Fleet Feet, McCartney Produce.


at 11 November 2021

St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis--An Exciting Week at Shelby Farms Park!


This is a very exciting week at Shelby Farms Park!  We are proud to be the site for the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis and can’t wait to host more than 2,400 elite athletes and more than 5,000 spectators on Saturday, October 2 for this special event.  These triathletes will be swimming, biking and running in and around the Park.  

The Park is open on Saturday, but please note that the entire Park will be impacted by this event and your time at the Park will not be what you regularly experience. Be prepared for additional traffic, delays and road closures in and around the Park. On Saturday, all traffic must enter off of Mullins Station. CLICK HERE for the traffic impact guide and CLICK HERE for course maps.

Remember to pack your patience and to be careful and courteous as you maneuver through traffic and parking areas! Spectators are welcome to visit the IRONMAN Expo and cheer on the athletes. CLICK HERE for the week’s full event schedule.  

St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis Highlights:
Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 27-29
Equipment, trucks, trailers load in and set up.

Thursday, Sept. 30
Athlete check-in.
IRONMAN Expo opens.
Great View Drive N. closes at the three-way at Pine Lake Drive.

Friday, Oct. 1
Practice swim for registered athletes. IRONMAN Expo and IRONKIDS race opens.

Saturday, Oct. 2
Event race day! 

Sunday, Oct 3
Event breakdown and move out.

Looking to volunteer for this event? Click here!

at 29 September 2021

Celebrating Five 901-derful Years


It's hard to believe we're already celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Heart of the Park opening to the public! We caught up with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy's CEO, Jen Andrews, in a Q+A below, to find out how the project has shaped Shelby Farms Park's future and what her favorite observations are of the space over the last five years. But first, here's a quick history of Heart of the Park and how it came to be:

A Brief History of Heart of the Park 

At 9:01am on 9.01.2016*, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy opened its biggest improvement project to date⏤Heart of the Park. This project focused on the transformation Shelby Farms Park's largest lake and surrounding landscape, and it served as the keystone for the first phase of the Park's Master Plan. When you visit the Park today, Heart of the Park is a community hub⏤a place to get moving or relax, soak up an unrivaled sunset, grab a bite to eat, rent a boat or bike, splash around at the Water Play Sprayground, or shop in the Lake's Edge Gift Shop to support daily Park operations. At the request of the community in the planning process with world-renowned landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, Heart of the Park was designed to give the community a special space to gather and connect, while allowing the rest of the Park a little wilder with more opportunities to explore. 

*For non-Memphians, 901 is our city's area code, and we couldn't think of a better date and time to celebrate the community that helped make Heart of the Park's transformation possible!


While this renovation was a massive undertaking, the project was completed on time and on budget⏤a $52 million budget to be exact⏤and with tremendous public support and minimal disruption to daily park access. In just 24 months, Hyde Lake (formerly Patriot Lake) grew from about 50 acres to roughly 80 acres and the entire watershed was reshaped, creating a healthier, more ecologically sound body of water. In tandem, the First Horizon Foundation Visitor Center and FedEx Event Center we constructed along the lake's edge, creating designated spaces for gathering like the AutoZone Front Porch.

Fun fact:
The first beam in the First Horizon Visitor Center went up at the same time the first tree was being planted in Heart of the Park!


Q+A with Jen Andrews • Shelby farms Park Conservancy CEO

Why was the completion of Heart of the Park significant for Shelby Farms Park/Shelby Farms Park Conservancy? And for Memphis?
Opening the Heart of the Park amenities to the public represented the culmination of more than a decade of dreaming, planning, pushing, pulling, designing, fundraising and building. Dozens of teammates, community leaders, board members, volunteers, donors, elected officials, friends and supporters gave untold hours to make this dream a reality. It was a huge, heavy community lift, and Memphis should be proud of the gift it has given itself in Shelby Farms Park. 

We set out to create a world class public park for our community, and we did it! We wanted this project (along with the Greenline and Woodland Discovery Playground) to set a new benchmark for what’s possible in our city and to inspire us all to expect more from our public realm. 


Any special memory from opening day (9.01.16) that you’d like to share?
What a day. Some of us had been working out of our new visitor center offices for a few months prior to the area being open to the public. It was magical just to see visitors sitting in the Adirondack chairs under the big fans on the front porch, taking in the gorgeous lake view. We all went out to talk with visitors and ask them what they thought. People were astonished and delighted. It was so much fun! For years, we’d been promising something truly special, and getting to see people finally enjoy it was pure joy. 

At the ribbon cutting ceremony (appropriately held at 9:01am on 9/01), I remember looking at my teammates in the crowd and feeling tremendous pride and gratitude. The strength of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has always been in the people who gather to support it. This park is a magnet for talent, passion and people who love a challenge! 

Heart of the Park Ribbon Cutting - 9.01.16
Heart of the Park Ribbon Cutting September 1, 2016


What has surprised you most in the last 5 years?
We knew the new park would be popular, but it would have been hard to guess just how many people it would draw. We are regularly astounded and totally delighted by the crowds. 

This is a very thoughtfully engineered and designed site that we spent many years working on, workshopping and revising. Fortunately, it functions more or less as we had hoped. It is a very complex site, with hundreds of acres of turf, thousands of trees, wetlands, hundred of irrigation heads, wildlife, meadows, a sprayground, boat launches and beaches, more than 2 miles of lakeshore, more than 5 miles of trails and paths, site furniture, lighting, a stage, a great lawn, an event center, two restaurants, a visitor center, staff offices, a gift shop, a geothermal HVAC system, a boathouse and more. Operational expertise has to range from mechanical systems management, to IT, to drainage, to habitat management, to janitorial, and on and on. 

Heart of the Park Construction: Baptist Memorial Health Care Promenade, Water Play Sprayground, Geothermal System under Hyde Lake


Do you have a favorite spot or activity in Heart of the Park?
This is an impossible question! It’s so hard to pick a favorite. 

James Corner Field Operations' beautiful landscape design work yielded a remarkably varied experience for visitors. The north side of the lake feels like a vibrant urban park hub. As I’m typing this, I’m watching a family kick around a soccer ball on the Visitor Center lawn. Yesterday, there was a fashion shoot on the front porch!  But as you walk the Promenade, your views and perspectives shift with each turn and cove. Sometimes the view feels expansive and vast, and other times you’re sharing an intimate cove with the blue heron standing on the lake shore. Then you emerge into pastoral meadows and hilly terrain. As you approach the Forest Walk, the landscape begins to feel softer, wilder and quieter. As you enter the young cyprus forest, the Promenade is suspended over a wetland with cattails and tall grasses on either side. In a few hundred feet, you’re treated to the big water view from the farthest eastern corner of the lake stretching all the way to the west. 

But I think everyone here knows that my real favorite is getting to enjoy all the dogs that visit Heart of the Park. Other than the truly amazing people I work with, seeing and petting all of your dogs is my #1 job perk. Shoutout to Peabody, Mac, Murphy, J.J., Hugo, Glen, Gumbo the Hedgehog and all the regulars. 


Your office overlooks a large portion of Heart of the Park. Describe a typical day through your window. 
First - I am so spoiled. This view is unbelievable and inspiring. 

There is no such thing as a typical day at Shelby Farms Park. The only thing any days have in common is that anything could happen. I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never once been bored. 

Here are some things I’ve seen from my office window this week: 
-So many dogs (I love all of them)
-A hedgehog
-Kids playing football 
-Kids playing soccer
-A group of teenagers painting 
-A cross country team stretching 
-A stroller workout class
-Tai Chi 
-A corporate meeting
-Business lunches
-A fashion shoot
-Tik Tok videos being filmed
-A rainstorm rolling in over the lake 

Did someone say, "celebrate?" 



Shelby Farms Park Conservancy's vision is to give rise to a celebrated 21st century park that defines and shapes a great city, and our mission is to manage, operate, restore and improve Shelby Farms Park in partnership with and for the public. With the support of our volunteers, donors and partners, we are doing just that! Each year, SFPC privately raises funding for Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline through general donations, corporate and foundation support. If you believe in this mission and want to give back to the park you love and to help make projects like Heart of the Park possible, please click here.

at 01 September 2021
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