Universoul Circus is celebrating its 25th year. (Courtesy photo)

Since the idea of the U.S. largely is rooted in the right of declaration, I am exercising my prerogative to declare Memphis the center of the “Southern Universe” – at least for Labor Day Weekend and the Southern Heritage Classic Weekend that follows.

With that in mind, here are some points of reference for things to do this weekend:

A deeper shade of soul…

Just when you thought the antics couldn’t get faster, funkier or louder, they did! And they’re here. That colorful, fun-loving cast of characters from the UniverSoul Circus will converge on the city with its “Faster, Funkier, Louder Tour.”

 The high-flying masters of fanciful tricks have scheduled performances under the big-top tent at Hickory Ridge Mall, Winchester Rd., beginning this Friday, August 31. Shows are set for weekday mornings and evenings, along with three shows on the weekend. Round up the kiddies and enjoy an amazing night of spectacle you won’t soon forget!

This has been an amazing journey and a fantastic ride,” said Cedric Walker, founder and CEO of UniverSoul Circus.

“Generations have witnessed our growth and have evolved with us. We want our fans to know they will always be a part of the UniverSoul Circus family. Consider us a community-minded, family-oriented, spiritually-uplifting entertainment revival for families across America. We are so happy to be back in Memphis.”

Universoul Circus is celebrating its 25th year. For information on show times, pricing and availability, go to: ticketmaster.com or universoulcircus.com.

A jazzy first…

A long time coming and buffeting Memphis’ place on the music festival scene, the inaugural Bluff City Jazz Fest is set as a Labor Day celebration event Downtown at the Cannon Center. Show time is 5 p.m.

This premiere will feature some of the hottest names on the contemporary jazz scene: Star saxophonist Najee; duo jazz team Pieces of a Dream; songstress Miki Howard; jazz great Leela James; Alex Bugnon; and The Perfect Combination Band, better known as The PC Band.

Inspired by other successful jazz festivals in the region, Michael Powell felt that Memphis was missing its very own jazz festival, which of course, would have its own soulful, flavor. The festival is the first of many that Fresh Ideas plans to host annually on Labor Day weekend.

Tickets are available at the Cannon Center Box Office and online at Ticketmaster. For VIP ticket reservations, call 901-503-1633.

‘Let’s hurry down to a stone-soul picnic…’

It’s that time again, family. The 44th Annual WLOK Stone Soul Picnic, a Memphis tradition, is set for this Saturday (Sept. 1) at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park.

This year’s line up of gospel artists is a stellar parade of Mid-South recording stars, including: Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices, The Tennessee Mass Choir, Temple of Deliverance Mass Choir, Southern Sons, The Gospel Four, Sensational Wells Brothers, and afternoon highlight appearance of Pastor Frank E. Ray, of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association.

Everyone is invited for day of family fun and gospel performances; Lots of food and fellowship as the WLOK family celebrates 44 years.

 Black film on the big screen…

The 3rd Annual WLOK Black Film Festival event kicks off Thursday night (Aug. 30) with a celebration of new filmmakers presentation at Southwest Tennessee Community College at 6 p.m. on the downtown campus. Short feature films produced by blossoming Memphis talent will be screened.

A Friday evening, red-carpet affair at the Pink Palace Museum will feature the blockbuster, superhero triumph production, “Black Panther.” The stroll down a red carpet begins at 6 p.m. and the filming begins at 7 p.m.

 Saturday, “Coming to America is showing at the Memphis College of Art at 8 p.m.

On Sunday, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” will be showing at 3 p.m. at Malco Studio on the Square. And culminating the festival is a showing of “Selma” at 7 p.m., at the National Civil Rights Museum.

 The Beale Street Cigar Festival

Created for cigar enthusiasts and novices alike, this annual and nationally known gathering is set for Labor Day Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Visit www.bealestreetcigarfestival.com for all the details.

This year’s event is hosted by the Legendary Biz Markie, with a much-anticipated performance by the LOCKED And LOADED BAND!

 AFSCME BBQ cookoff family day…

AFSCME 1733 will mark this Labor Day celebration with a Monday BBQ and is inviting all the other unions to join them in a barbeque cookoff and parade.

Everyone is invited to assemble at Clayborn Temple at 10 a.m. and march to the AFSCME headquarters on Beale Street. Each union is invited to bring banners and signs for the parade. And the cookoff will challenge contestants in several categories: pork shoulder, chicken wings, and pork ribs.

No matter who comes in first, everybody wins with great food, a bounce-house for the children, a DJ, and so much more. Hot dogs and hamburgers are also on the menu.

Admission is free.