GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Excitement is building as Centennial Plaza in Gulfport is gearing up for its grand opening scheduled Aug. 5.
Riding that momentum will be a huge three-day music festival in September that organizers hope will compete with the likes of Jazz Fest and Hangout Fest.
Greg Everhart is a man with the plan.
His group, Sunshine Tour and Travel, will be taking over Centennial Plaza Sept. 20-22 for Chillin’ on the Gulf Coast. The event will fill the plaza with food, an arts & crafts festival and music from more than 40 bands performing jazz, R&B, country and classic rock.
“We’re opening the resort to the public,” Everhart said. “You can come in, shop the vendors in the arts and crafts festival. You can go around the resort, check it out, go to any of the restaurants, the bars, and then, if you purchase a ticket, you can come and listen to the music all day.”
Individual and three-day tickets will be available for the music festival as well as packages that include hotel stays on site.
He said it’s close to a sell-out thanks to a surprise.
“More than half of the rooms that have been booked have been booked by locals,” Everhart said. “People that live in Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs. They’re doing a little staycation and staying here because they want to see this resort.”
He believes this festival will grow every year - mostly because of the venue.
“Centennial Plaza has been discussed ever since Katrina,” he said. “It’s been debated what was going to happen with it, and once this resort came in and we took a look at the plans, it was just we wanted to have this festival here and celebrate the reopening of this place.”
There will be an opening event Sept. 19 called Wine Bourbon and Blues in the chapel on site. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for Aug. 1, with the grand opening happening on Aug. 5. To learn more about the music festival, check the event’s Facebook page.