On April 15, Gulf Park Event Services hosted the 2017 Southern Miss Jazz and Blues Festival on April 15 in Long Beach.
Six jazz and blues ensembles and performers played during the day and more than 40 local arts and crafts vendors set up in the lawn across from the beach. The event was free and open to the public.
The Jazz and Blues Festival is the largest community outreach event for the Gulf Park Campus. The festival committee and Gulf Park Event Services team work year-round to prepare for this annual event and to find sponsors to ensure the festival remains a free event. Since its inception, the festival has been held the day before Easter Sunday.
Originally, the festival was hosted by the SGA but grew so large that faculty members had to become involved in order to help run the event according to Administrative Specialist Ana LaBorde.
“We are proud to have hosted the ninth annual Southern Miss Jazz and Blues Festival on the Gulf Park Campus,” said Director of Operations and Outreach Kady Pietz.
The Coast Big Band, Shea Michaels, Jesse Loya and the House Katz, the Army Jazz Band, Jimmy Robinson and the Sofia Goodman Group performed throughout the day on both the main and side stages.
The festival included an Easter egg hunt for children ages 12 and under, food vendors and other activities. The Easter egg hunt consisted of 12,000 toy and candy-filled eggs, and drew hundreds of children from all across the coast, according to Pietz.
“This year’s festival received great reviews from all our attendees. From the arts and crafts vendors, to the children’s activities, we enjoyed having everything on campus,” said Coordinator of Gulf Park Event Services Aaron Broussard.
Seymour and the Easter Bunny made appearances throughout the day to the delight of the children.
Several Gulf Park campus student organizations volunteered their time at the children’s activity area including the Student Government Association, Psi Chi Honor Society and Sigma Tau Delta. All money raised by the organizations went towards their specific group.
Elizabeth Huffmaster, a local coast artist, designed the 2017 festival art used for the official festival t-shirts and posters sold the day of the event.
“As I watch the various ages of our community members enjoy the day, from dancing to lots of children’s laughter… it reminds me again how fortunate we are to be Golden Eagles and to call this beautiful campus home. Next year will be the 10th festival and will be the best yet,” Pietz said.
“Additionally, the overwhelming support from the Southern Miss community and our student organizations have made this annual festival one of the most successful and highly anticipated family friendly events on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”