OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – A beloved tradition more than four decades old has added another chapter to its storied history. The Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival is over now but it once again transformed the small city of Ocean Springs.
Cynthia Sutton is the festival director and has spent the better part of the last year organizing every little detail.
“For two days I say we kind of turn into our own little Disney World here in Ocean Springs, with 150,000 people expected to come to this event,” said Sutton.
To give you some perspective, that is 48,000 more people squeezed into the small town of Ocean Springs than in SEC college football stadiums on Saturday night.
Yet with all those people attending, an array of volunteers are needed. Over 200 people volunteered their time to make this year’s festival a possibility, which local businesses are thankful for as they look forward to the economic benefits all year.
“It is the busiest weekend of the year,” said Kendall Alford, co-owner of Magnolia Doll. “We have people from all over the country come in. The streets are so packed you can barely walk. Like we just have so many people come in here and it is just great advertisement.”
Magnolia Doll opened up last year during Peter Anderson and the success the store saw in week one had Alford looking ahead all year long. Right next door, Leather and Pearls owner Alma White said her establishment sees the same bump, with clothes flying off the rack all weekend long.
“It is a big boost year in and year out, and I cannot wait to see all the people that come in and all the new vendors every year,” said White.
While each year there are dozens of new vendors, many have been coming back for over a decade. That includes artists Rick and Tina Lorenza.
“If you create something that makes people smile, that is a really big deal and if you can make them laugh that is an even bigger deal. So our art is whimsical in nature and so it does make people smile. I mean, we all need to smile more,” said Rick Lorenza.
The fact that close to 500 arts, crafts and food vendors set up shop at this year’s festival had event organizers smiling, and they weren’t the only ones. Perhaps none smiled brighter than those who were born and raised in Ocean Springs.
Kyle Cooper is a college student studying in Jackson right now. While medical school keeps him busy, he couldn’t miss Peter Anderson weekend.
“It really is amazing to see all the people, and meet the people from out of town, from all over the country, hear their stories and listen about how they love Ocean Springs, how they love this city, our class, our culture that we have formed here the last few years with this festival. It is just really amazing,” said Cooper.
His is a sentiment that is shared by many as the festival is expected to have its largest attendance in its 41 year history. Preparations for next year’s event are expected to get under way in the coming days.