OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - A year ago, vendors lining the streets of downtown Ocean Springs would have been labeled a COVID-19 super spreader event.
However, after approved vaccines and no more Mississippi mask mandates, business owners and visitors call it a sign of progress.
“It’s spring. It’s new birth. It’s a new year,” artist Tami Curtis said. “We literally are turning a page.”
From across the region, people brought candles, soaps, paintings, pictures, food and drinks to the Spring Arts Festival.
“We’re just hoping to meet some people, have some great conversations and sell some books and art,” Curtis said.
Vendors said the business is refreshing after a year of hardship due to the pandemic.
“We’re just so thankful for because last year, for a lot of artists out here, a lot of shows were canceled, which put a big ding into everything,” Curtis said.
Now, business owners are enjoying the foot traffic after loosened safety restrictions across the region.
“Now I’m traveling to do these markets, and it’s been really rewarding,” said Tisha Wrobel, creator of Gnome Hollow.
The reaction from the two-day festival has been positive.
“This was just a real treat to come down here and find it,” Wrobel said.
Compliments especially came from the younger crowd, like fourth-grader Jonathan Rayner.
“We’ve just been walking around the culture really. Just look around and see what we can see,” Rayner said.
While the focus is on this weekend, some vendors are looking forward to setting up shop again in the near future.
“I’ve actually heard about other markets that happen, festivals that happen down here. So yes we are going to be a regular face,” Wrobel said.
The festival will pick back up Sunday starting at 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.