GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Coast's biggest car show has been going strong for 18 years now. With that kind of staying power, an event like Cruisin' the Coast starts to see an impact in the community beyond its original appeal.
That impact can be seen in several programs at Gulfport High School, especially the culinary arts department. Cruisin' fans from across the country are in for a treat this weekend.
Members of the Gulfport High School Culinary Team are heating up their ovens and putting their baking skills to the test.
"It gives them an opportunity to see what real production is like," said instructor Anita Huey.
She is leading the students in baking around 3,000 cookies to sell on the opening day of the big car festival. She worked with the Main Street Association and several donors to make this opportunity possible, but she says Cruisin's influence in the community was really responsible for getting this fundraiser off the ground.
"I doubt if anybody anticipated that it would be this large. All of the students need to know that there is something beyond the classroom," said Huey.
Her goal is to show the students real world experience. Huey's desire to provide that experience is one reason that senior Kimberleah Turgeon joined the culinary arts program.
"I always like seeing the look on people's faces when they enjoy it. That's my favorite part," said Kimberleah.
If you ask Kimberleah's classmates and teacher, she's responsible for the cookie recipe. She is no stranger to the kitchen having been raised by experienced cooks, but this weekend could prove to be her biggest stage yet.
"Cruisin' the Coast is so big," said Kimberleah.
With participation expected to be around 8,000 cruisers, she's hoping to have at least a portion give her cookies a chance.
"You never think that you could actually get involved in it. That you could be a part of something that big, and you could be remembered," said Kimberleah.
The Gulfport High Culinary Program will be selling the cookies Sunday in downtown Gulfport. All proceeds will help buy equipment and other essentials for the class.