Government Street Divided Over New Ocean Springs Festival

Controversy over an upcoming festival is dividing businesses along Government Street in Ocean Springs. Four businesses owners on that street have won the city's approval to hold a brand new art and music festival next month. However, not everyone on the block is thrilled about May Fest.

Business owner Kris Kuitzky is one of the event's organizers.

"We have seven bands booked and, of course, the food vendors," said Kuitzky. "It's going to be everything from cotton candy to barbecue."

Not everyone on Government Street is as enthusiastic. Some business owners say, nothing against May Fest, but events like Crusin' the Coast car show that a closed Government Street hurt their profits.

Jim Francis owns a pottery shop.

"We probably lose maybe half of our normal business on a closed festival. In an open festival, like the Herb and Garden Fest, we probably double our business."

Francis says he and other business owners are not only upset about the city closing part of Government Street, but also that the decision was made without talking with them.

Ward six Alderman James Hagan said, "I have not gone individually to the business owners that are upset. I did, at the board meeting the other night, try to apologize to them. I had all intentions of coming to every one of them before we did it, but it got sped up and dumped right that night. I just felt like that was the best time."

Hagan says he should have talked to the business owners first, although he thinks he would have come to the same conclusion of approving the festival.

The May Fest street closure has already been pushed back from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and other concessions are possible.

Kuitzky said, "We want to do the festival and we want everybody to be happy. I think we'll come up with some kind of conclusion to this."

The street closure will be on Government Street from Washington Avenue to State Street. Some business owners told us they plan to close that Saturday, May 5th because they don't expect to do much business.