OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The rush started early Saturday morning as a sea of shoppers and art lovers swarmed into Downtown Ocean Springs in record breaking numbers.
"By 8:30, we had to open it up, it was packed," said Cynthia Dobbs with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. "People were already coming into the gates, coming into the festival."
The Peter Anderson festival has nearly 400 artists this year, which is more than they've ever had.
"We're the biggest festival in the state with over 150,000 attendees that come every year," Dobbs said. "And we're expecting more this year."
Bruce Odell entertained crowds all day Saturday with fiery raku pottery glazing demonstrations.
"This is a very special firing where in about 30 minutes you bring the pot to about 2,000 degrees, snatch the pot out of the kiln," Odell explained. "And I'm spraying it with some flammable liquids to steal air from the glaze."
The process may sound complicated, but the final result is beautiful. People clamored to buy the colorful pottery that emerged from the kiln.
Odell said it's not just the sales, but the spirit of the festival that keeps him coming back year after year.
"I like the accent on regional art," Odell said. "There's a lot of art from the sea, a lot of art from the Gulf, and you know a lot of the colors that are regional, and of course since Katrina, the place is built up, I think better than before."
Store owners said they're thrilled the throngs of people that show up for the fest come into their stores.
Saturday alone, Barbara Ladnier helped thousands of customers at her downtown boutique, Utopia.
"Everybody comes to buy for Peter Anderson," Ladnier said. "They come to buy, they bring money; they bring mom. They come to buy."
"For many of our small businesses, this is what makes their year," Dobbs said. "So it is a huge economic impact. The hotels are always full for this, and it is very large. It gets our name out there as well."