Two cities in Hancock County will host separate festivals about three miles apart the weekend before Independence Day.
Waveland Mayor Mike Smith said the city’s Destination Waveland Independence Day Blowout is returning on July 2, and the event is just one small part of the revitalization of Waveland since Hurricane Katrina.
The event at the Garfield Ladner Pier from 5-9 p.m. will have a fireworks show, music by Category 6 and a “patriotic coastal menu.”
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Last year, the event was sponsored by Discovery Channel’s “Destination America.”
The network threw the celebration in response to resident Donna Estopinal’s essay about the city’s resolve to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Out of 2,600 entries, Estopinal’s essay won the grand prize, sharing it with a town in California.
According to Destination Waveland’s Facebook page, 20,000 people attended the event in 2015.
On June 16, Smith told the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce he hopes the event will help bring people to the city.
But from July 1-3, an iconic festival in Bay St. Louis will offer fresh boiled seafood and live music — as well as shops and fair rides — for its 32nd year, and it’s only a couple of miles east of Waveland.
20,000 Number of people who attended Destination Waveland last year
The Our Lady of the Gulf Crab Festival always takes place on the weekend of or before Independence Day on the grounds of Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church. For the second year in a row, the Crab Fest will compete with the city of Waveland on Saturday to draw in festivalgoers.
Pam Metzler, Crab Fest organizer, said she supports tourism development for the city of Waveland as well as the Independence Day Blowout, but wishes they would host their summer event on a different weekend.
“I thought it was unneighborly that they would do this the same weekend as the Crab Fest,” she said. “This has been going on for 32 years. It brings everybody together. It’s a community thing.”
Metzler said the Crab Fest is the only annual fundraiser Our Lady of the Gulf hosts.
“I have people from all walks of life that work the Crab Fest,” she said. “It’s a good community vibe. Everybody sweats and works together to raise money for the church.”
32 Number of years Our Lady of the Gulf has hosted Crab Fest on church grounds
Metzler said last year’s event in Waveland did not hurt the Crab Fest at all, but she said hosting the event on a different weekend could mean more visibility for each event.
Tish Williams, Hancock Chamber director, said both events will attract tourists to Hancock County. Williams said the Crab Fest has been a significant draw to Bay St. Louis for decades, and generations of families from New Orleans are known to attend the event. She said she hopes the Independence Day Blowout also will bring tourists to Waveland.
“There’s so much to do here on that weekend, and this (the Independence Day Blowout) is another thing to put in the chip bag, another activity for people to come here to enjoy,” she said.