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Crowds starting to pick up at Gulfport Music Festival (9:10 p.m. update)

Thousands of music fans are having a good time tonight at Jones Park as the crowds at the Gulfport Music Festival have started to pick up. One current crowd estimate: at least 7,000 people.

Meanwhile, Misty Manning wouldn’t let something like knee surgery keep her from seeing Justin Moore.

The Biloxi woman leaned on her crutches near the fence five hours before the country singer is scheduled to appear at the Gulfport Music Festival. She had surgery to repair torn ligaments three weeks ago, but when her friend, Sarah Falkner of Las Vegas, offered her a free ticket for the Friday show, she stuck her cell phone in her knee brace and headed to Jones Park. “I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity like this,” she said. “You got to keep going sometimes. Sometimes it’s worth the wait.”

The two 20-year-olds say they like the artists on the Friday line-up.

“They’re just like real people,” Manning said. “They come from the country, just like us.”

The festival runs Friday with headliner Gary Allan taking the stage at 10:45 p.m.

All parking for the festival is north of U.S. 90 with pedestrian traffic at 20th Avenue only. Parking is available for $5 at the CTA parking garage. The Coast Transit Authority’s Festival Hopper trolley will run for an hour after the end of the festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday night with stops at 21st Avenue and 15th Street, 26th Avenue and 14th Street and 27th Avenue and 13th Street, CTA Executive Editor Kevin Coggin said.

Day tickets and weekend passes are available for purchase at the front gate.