Wild Wing Festival Spawns Eco-Tourism Opportunities for Gautier

Cattails dance in the wind as paddles skim the water. Instead of just admiring Gautier's hidden treasure, the 3rd annual Wings on the Bayou event let people experience nature firsthand.

"It's a totally different experience being in the water and actually getting to enjoy it," college student Garrett Beasley says.

College students like Garrett Beasley helped make that experience possible from tiny canoes. Kathy Wilkinson played tour guide on a bayou excursion.

"A lot of people don't have an opportunity to get out here if they don't have a boat. To see the look of almost wonder on their faces, when they see things they've not used to seeing, it's pretty cool," Wilkinson says.

Wings on the Bayou created a unique opportunity for people to enjoy beauty in their own backyards. But organizers hope it doesn't stop there. They hope that word of their natural treasures reaches a much wider audience.

"We would love to draw people from all over the country to Gautier to see what we have to offer. That's our hope, to make it a sustainable industry here," Wilkinson says.

Amidst all the beauty there was room for some spills, but the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors is worth the wet socks. That adventurous spirit is something Beasley hopes is contagious.

"It's kind of special. You get to touch somebody and see the sparkle in their eye when the fish jump. See the birds. It makes me feel good," Beasley says.

The Wild Wing Festival will be continuing all week throughout various cities in Jackson and George Counties. To find a complete list of events for the Wild Wing Festival, click here