Centennial Plaza’s grand debut is coming, plus other Coast events to keep on your radar

Organizers expect 30,000 extra people on the Coast next weekend, many of them riding in to Gulfport on motorcycles or in campers for the 42nd annual National Bikers Roundup.

The rally July 30 to Aug. 4 is one of the new events coming to South Mississippi in the next several weeks. These join the lineup of late summer and early fall events like the Biloxi Seafood Festival, county fairs and Cruisin’ The Coast.

Organizers of the rally ask that drivers be alert for motorcycles on area roads. Bikers will be coming from across the country for activities and camping at Harrison County Fairgrounds on County Farm Road. They will stay at area hotels, eat at local restaurants and drive along the beach.

The National Bikers Roundup is the largest camping motorcycle rally in the country and is organized by a group of African American motorcycle clubs. The location changes every year and organizers say people have been asking to come to the Coast.

Indian Motorcycles, the brand often touted by Mike and Frank on the television show “American Pickers,” is a sponsor of the Roundup and will be offering demo rides on their bikes. Also planned are stunt shows, nightly entertainment and trophy events for men, women and children.

Admission is $30 for the weekend, plus additional fees for those bringing their RVs to camp.

Down South Burners MC Clubhouse at 3370 C Ave. in Gulfport also is welcoming the bikers the weekend of Aug. 1-4 with a poker run, swimsuit contest and a blessing of the bikes.

Long shot

Worldwide Pool Tournament fills the Coast Coliseum Sept. 20-27, and those who want to play in the amateur-only tournament need to register by Aug. 1.

“We’re wanting all the local players to come play,” said Jerry Radtke, tournament director. Players can go online or text their email to 239-271-1168 and a tournament package will be sent to them, he said.

They can pay as a single or in a team and Radtke said there are 3 divisions and 14 tournaments. Players must show documentation from a league or tournament to show they are amateurs.

It’s free for spectators who want to watch the tournament, played on 7-foot diamond tables with lights. Tournament hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.

“We’ve actually done this type of event before,” said Matt McDonnell, executive director of the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. “It’s different,” he said. “We’re always looking for unique and unusual events that have not saturated the market.”

Centennial Plaza debut

Chillin’ on the Gulf Coast on Sept. 20-22 is an inaugural music, food and arts festival that also celebrates the Aug. 5 opening of the new Centennial Plaza in Gulfport.

Cowboy Mouth, Copper Chief, Bag of Donuts and The Molly Ringwalds are some of the two dozen musical performances scheduled over the three days.

A 1-day pass is $59 for adults and $10 for children 3 and older. A 3-day pass is $150 for adults and $30 children. The public will have free public access to the Plaza, with its the food and beverage vendors, so everyone can be part of the celebration.

Centennial Plaza also will be Cruise Central for Cruisin’ The Coast in October.

Festival time

Other festivals and major events coming to the Coast are:

  • Sept. 7 — Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Pascagoula
  • Sept. 14-15 — Biloxi Seafood Festival, Biloxi Town Green
  • Sept. 18-21 — Hancock County Fair, Kiln
  • Oct. 6-13 — Cruisin’ The Coast
  • Oct. 17-20 — Harrison County Fair, Gulfport
  • Oct. 19-20 — Fall Muster at Beauvoir, Biloxi
  • Oct. 20-27 — Jackson County Fair, Pascagoula
  • Nov. 2-3 — Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, downtown Ocean Springs
Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.