Fun for all ages at the 23rd annual Celebrate the Gulf Festival

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - There were plenty of fun things for children to see and do at the 23rd annual Celebrate the Gulf Marine Education Festival on Saturday. The kid friendly exhibits were geared toward teaching kids the importance of preserving the coast.

"It's awesome. All the stuff is cool. You learn about wildlife stuff. You can learn about fish and endangered species," said Brennum.

In the words of Brennum, there was some "cool stuff" at this year's Celebrate the Gulf Festival. From a raptor show, to petting snakes and turtles, festival organizers from the Department of Marine Resources made sure the event would be unforgettable.

"We put this together to encourage the students to come out and learn about the natural resources and to become stewards of the environment," said Jennifer Buchanan, who works for the Department of Marine Resources.

Of course the more than 20 interactive exhibits didn't disappoint. One popular exhibit was the "turtle hurdle". It's a netting system designed for shrimp boats to allow turtles a way out in case they get caught.

"Every year we shoot to have about 25 different exhibits. They all involve marine resources in some capacity, both off shore and near shore resources," said Buchanan.

Another popular exhibit was sponsored by the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Refuge. They brought furs from several animals native to Mississippi for the children to pet including fox, coyote and raccoon. Even more interesting were the bracelets they helped children make.

The children picked beads having to do with their age, where they were born and how many siblings they have. The exercise is similar to how they identify the endangered cranes at the reserve.

"Our refuge is located in the Gautier area. We have three individual units. It's the only place the Sandhill Crane is still found in the world," said Ken Herring.

Herring and his wife are volunteers from Pennsylvania who travel the nation spreading awareness about the endangered cranes. Festival organizer Jennifer Buchanan is thankful for people, like the Herrings, who help make the event successful.

This year's festival was held in conjunction with Art in the Pass at War Memorial Park, located on Beach Boulevard in Pass Christian.

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