By Steve Phillips – bio | email
OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It's the calm before the storm in downtown Ocean Springs. More than 100,000 visitors are expected for this weekend's annual "Peter Anderson Art Festival". On Friday, downtown merchants were preparing to welcome the large crowd of potential customers.
Traffic congestion on Washington Avenue will be replaced by a sea of festival-goers and shoppers this weekend. Downtown merchants anxiously anticipate and prepare for the annual crowd. Jeanie Stevenson is one of the merchants. "I've been ready for this weekend. We look forward to it every year," she said.
Christmas gifts and decor fill the retail space at Salmagundi Gift shop where Stevenson works. After a big sales boost from "Cruisin the Coast", the big art festival is the perfect follow-up for downtown merchants. "It's fantastic," she said. "We have a lot of people in the shop. And all the shops and restaurants. So, we're all excited about it."
The open banner will be flying outside South Coast Antiques on Government Street. The store's resident artist is Michael W. Moses. "We feature all kinds of antiques and art and historical items," he explained. Moses creates the ceramic pieces and jewelry. The atmosphere here is relaxed. Customers find themselves stepping back in time. "We try to be a little more fun and quirky. We have a lot of people who come in the shop and say it's like being in a museum where you can buy things," said Moses.
Hillyer House owner Paige Riley is all smiles as she and her staff prepare for the flood of customers. The Peter Anderson Art Fest is the perfect complement to this business. "We are an American craft gallery," Riley said. "And we represent over 400 artists from all over the country. Local, regional and national. They will find jewelry, pottery, glass and original art."
Work crews hang the necessary signs and do a little last minute landscaping. With a near perfect weekend weather forecast, merchants expect the first weekend of November to be the best they've ever had.
The Peter Anderson Art Festival is open from 9:00 until 5:00 Saturday, and 9:00 until 4:00 on Sunday in downtown Ocean Springs. Parking is limited and visitors are encouraged to ride the shuttle bus that runs from Ocean Springs High School.