BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The welcome mat for the annual Crawfish Festival is all wet. COVID-19 canceled last year’s event, but this year, heavy rains have kept attendance down, and vendors struggling.
The amusement rides at the Crawfish Festival are up and running, but this is just a pre-show warm-up. In bad weather, the seats are empty and there has been a lot of that.
“Well this last week, it’s been very difficult,” said Pat Repp, general manager with North American Midway Entertainment. “The weather has not cooperated as you all know. We fought it trying to get everything set up, of course, and get open for the event. We fought it and we’re hoping it’d be out of here. Now, we’re obviously fighting it while we’re open.”
But even with record levels of rainwater, Repp remains unfazed.
“We deal with this as it comes,” said Repp. “And, you know, being outdoors, you’re going to have to expect rain and storms and what-not. And we feel like we’re very prepared for anything. And people that come down here are safe.”
It’s been a tough gig for vendor Jess Emile.
“The whole crowds got moved inside for the concert and we’re out here in the rain,” said Emile. “So, it was definitely unexpected I didn’t expect it to rain this many days in a row.”
But she has a plan.
“I ordered a ton of inventory for the show, hoping that I’d have better sales,” Emile said. “But, I do have other shows that I can sell the inventory. The only loss would be the fees that we have to pay.”
Shelly Newman is in the same boat, so to speak.
“It’s been a tough go so far,” she said. “We were hoping for today. So, maybe we’ll have some breaks in this. We’ll see.”
And she came all the way from Nashville, so it’s doubly painful.
“Yeah, sure. Expensive to get here, expensive to be here,” said Newman.
“You just keep plugging along,” said Newman.
Bridget Mayo of Carriere was among the brave visitors who showed up early Saturday with her friends, and she’s not even a big festival-goer.
“No. I just like to fly by the seat of my pants,” said Mayo. “If it comes up and I want to go, I go.”
Even in the rain.
“Because I’m ready to have a good time,” Mayo said. “It’s not going to stop me. It doesn’t rain on my parade.”
Fortunately, the forecast is looking a little better tomorrow for the final day of the festival.