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Soaring fish steal the show at 25th Mullet Festival in Gautier

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDDenilson Martinez, 6, winds up for a big throw while tossing mullet at the 2015 Gautier Mullet and Music Fest on Saturday. The event ends today and it also offers live music, vendors, food, activities for children, a car show and more.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDDenilson Martinez, 6, winds up for a big throw while tossing mullet at the 2015 Gautier Mullet and Music Fest on Saturday. The event ends today and it also offers live music, vendors, food, activities for children, a car show and more. SUN HERALD

Festivalgoers expect to enjoy live music, fresh food and crafts created by local artists during an event, but only in Gautier do guests expect to throw a fish through the air.

The 25th annual Gautier Mullet and Music Festival, which will conclude today, began Saturday morning with thousands flocking to the former Singing River Mall's north parking lot for a chance to test their arm strength in flinging fresh fish.

"I thought it would be like throwing a football," Jonathan Scottsman said. "I guess there is really no way to prepare yourself for throwing a fish."

Scottsman, 28, of Gautier, said the event has a quirkiness that sets it apart from other Coast festivals.

"No one else does this," he said. "Each year, me and my buddies all make bets on who can throw it the farthest."

The premise is simple: Participants put on a latex glove, choose their mullet provided by Bozo's Seafood Market, then throw the fish as far as they can on a 60-yard field.

"Some say to choose a lighter mullet, but I try and get one with some weight on it," Scottsman said. "Anyone just passing by and seeing this would probably think we're crazy down here."

Flying fish may steal the show, but the festival has grown to offer something for everyone to enjoy.

"This is my favorite festival to attend every year," vendor Pam Belk said. "No other festival has this many activities."

Belk, of Saucier, has set up her booth of homemade jewelry in the same spot for the fourth consecutive year at the Mullet Festival.

"They do a great job here," she said. "It isn't the same cookie-cutter layout as other festivals I go to."

Dustin Andrews, operations coordinator for the festival, said this year is the best he's seen.

"Everything came together perfect," he said. "The weather, the turnout, the vendors, it's great."

Andrews said there will be 120 vendors selling a variety of items for guests that could number up to 20,000.

"It's hard to predict foot traffic," he said. "We expect a high number because of the quality of the event."

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