BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The stage is being set for a much better 2011 at the Coast Coliseum's Crawfish Festival in Biloxi. There are signs this year will be much better than last year, when spring break traffic choked off access on Highway 90.
Coliseum Director Bill Holmes said so far, the numbers look good.
"Our advance sales for our entertainment is about 35 or 36 percent over last year," Holmes said. "Any year, actually, that we've ever had, including 2009, which was our best year. And we anticipate good crowds."
In 2010, spring break traffic jams meant poor attendance. So it wasn't surprising that some of the vendors decided not to return. But coliseum officials are happy to report that many more vendors came in to take their place. One is Alec Naman, who spent the day getting ready for the anticipated crowds.
"We heard it was great and had a nice crowd," Naman said. "We're on the water. I can see Gulf from here. This is a nice view. So I've got a great location here and I can enjoy the weekend."
Another new vendor, James Cook, is using the festival to supplement his family income.
"The thing that's bringing us out here is extra money coming in and resources, so we'll see how everything goes," Cook said.
A Mardi Gras Krewe has been setting up shop at the festival for six years, raising money for the organization's annual ball. Last year was anything but a ball. But Kevin Weaver is keeping his fingers crossed this year.
"We're hoping for a good year," Weaver said. "With the spring break being already through with, I'm hoping that the crowds come out this year."
Friday is the first evening of an eight day run for the festival, spread out over the next two weekends.
One of the highlights is the Crawfish cook-off this Sunday, in which dozens of teams are competing for cash and prizes. Another highlight, the six all-you-can-ride-for-one-price nights during the festival.
Click here to see the entertainment lineup, and ticket information.