More than 6,000 music fans filled the front yard of the Southern Miss Gulf Park Campus for the tenth annual Southern Miss Jazz and Blues Festival. The festival had five bands, 69 vendors and games for children, including an Easter egg hunt with 10,000 eggs.
“We are very excited this year. One of the main things we wanted to do was tried to get all of our performing acts to have some kind of tie to Southern Miss,” Vice President of the Gulf Park Campus Steve Miller said. “Most of the acts you will hear today are made up of folks that are alums or from the local area.”
“It is a good, family-friendly event that draws thousands of people from the coastal communities,” Miller said.
Tim and Mary Garrett, former office manager of the Department of Arts and Letters on the Gulf Park campus, echoed this opinion, as they have been coming to the festival with their children and grandchildren since the very first festival.
“It is usually very pleasant,” Mary said. “As long as the weather holds,” Tim added.
“It is just a great place to hang out for the day. I think there was only one year that it rained,” Mary said.
“You have a lot of people that put a lot of work into [the festival] and it shows. Between the groups and different activities, you can see the people that are really enjoying putting the program together,” Tim said. “That is one of the reasons we keep coming back.”
Coygon Robison, Jr. was an artist that showcased his prints and pieces at the festival. He said that his style of art involves compositing photographs into surreal images. Robison said that after his term in the U.S. Air Force he decided he wanted to give his passion a try.
“This is a craft oriented show, but I figured I needed to get a feel for things since there are a lot of alumni and others would be out that were interested in art in general,” Robison said.
Southern Miss alum Tom “Bones” Malone played with a group of Southern Miss students to a cheering crowd of jazz and blues fans. Malone traveled from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the event.
A massive crowd gathered on the front lawn and listened to the five different bands. The crowd, filled with young and old audience members, later moved to the dance floor. Through its signature music and cuisine, the Southern Miss Jazz and Blues Festival celebrated Gulf Coast heritage.