Zonta Fest will be biggest yet

Zonta Festival is this weekend in Pascagoula.
Zonta Festival is this weekend in Pascagoula. Sun Herald File

This year’s Zonta Festival will be the biggest yet and will take place Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., in downtown Pascagoula.

The festival offers attractions for the young and the old, art and music lovers, commercial shoppers and foodies.

The festival is presented by the Zonta Club of Pascagoula, a local chapter of the international organization that strives to end violence toward women and empower women to achieve academic excellence.

Most recently, the Pascagoula chapter donated to Louisiana flood victims, but their recurring donations help the immediate area. These include a $5,000 grant to Adrienne’s House and annual scholarships for young women studying public affairs, business, nursing and art.

A great part of funding these groups and individuals is accomplished through their annual Zonta Fest. Evelyn Draughn, past president and a charter member, said the festival’s modest beginnings have grown to capacity.

“We are just bigger than ever,” Draughn said. “We started off real little with about two to three blocks downtown and now we almost extend to the river. In our 39th year, we’ve hit our cutoff of about 250 (vendor) spaces.”

Zonta will accommodate the crowds with non-stop shuttle service from the north parking lot at First Baptist Church and at other stops on the way to the festival.

Along Watts Avenue, there will be a juried collection of classic cars. There also are games and a bounce house for children. Vendors will include original paintings, pottery and crafts; commercial goods and a food court for hungry attendees.

Another draw of the festival is two stages of live entertainment that includes performance groups and regional musical acts.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. at the Library Stage, located at 3214 Pascagoula St. There will be a presentation of colors, bagpipes, a welcome by Mayor Jim Blevins, and the singing of the national anthem by Amelia Presley.

At 9:30, Sweet Manna will take the stage, followed by the Razzoo Duo at 10. Classic car contest winners will be announced at 10:30. Music continues at 11 with Deuces Wild. The Upbeat Line Dancers will perform at noon. Music continues with Nimblefeat (12:30) Kenzie Chapman (1:30), Dana Woods (2), Johnny Mire (2:30), R.T. Hall (3), Lynn Rouse (3:30) and Deuces Wild (4).

At the Old Hancock Bank Stage, located at the corner of Magnolia and Delmas avenues. The Twirling Company will get things going at 9 a.m. and the Melange Dance Company Aspire Performance Group will take the stage at 10. Jackson County artists Amanda Jones & Friends will kick off the music lineup at 9:30. Others acts will include: Sweet Manna (10:30), Johnny Mire (11), Robert Josephs (11:30), Southwind (noon), Double Dee (1 p.m.), Razoo Band (2), The Hyland Band (3) and an hour of music from the Yazoo Bayou Band (4).

Admission is free.