Peter Anderson Festival could expand next year

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - An event so big that crowds are packed in shoulder to shoulder is any organizer's dream.  Peter Anderson Festival officials are thrilled by the huge turnout this weekend, but now there are some questions about how to handle the massive crowds in the future.  Officials think maybe this year its time to restructure.

"I think this year we could probably call ourselves the largest arts festival in the state of Mississippi with ease, perhaps the largest in the region. The crowd has been tremendous," said Margaret Miller with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce.

The Peter Anderson Festival regulars are noticing the change.

"Last year wasn't this big; it wasn't this overwhelming," said Dee Boreing.

"I know everybody thinks this year that it's twice as big or maybe three times as big, and it's the same number of booths that we've always had," said Miller, "It's really just that our crowd is larger."

Dee Boreing comes to the festival every year to get an early start on Christmas shopping.  She doesn't mind the crowds, but she did have some minor problems because of them this year.  One of them was the congested streets.

"A lot of difficulty passing through," she said about her time at the festival.

Parking was also an issue.

"People just think they can park any kind of way, on anybody's property, in anybody's driveway, not taking any consideration for other people's property," said Captain William Jackson of the Ocean Springs Police Department.

Some say it may be time to restructure the festival.

"I don't know how you can turn back time, in regard to the success of the Peter Anderson Festival." Miller said, "I think we're just gonna have to look at the setup."

That means spreading out the festival so it covers more than just Washington Avenue and Government Street.

"We may consider adding additional side streets. And, of course, on the side streets, we've got retailers," Miller said. "So it would get some extra exposure for them if we would break into some of the side streets."

Festival expansion could be one more way to improve this South Mississippi tradition.

"It's just what you do when you're down here," Boreing said with a laugh. "We look forward to it all year long."