Mississippi’s big celebration for its 200th birthday started in South Mississippi, and a holiday television movie that highlighted Gulfport captured hearts and a good response for national viewers in 2017.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the biggest entertainment stories for the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2017.
200th birthday party
Mississippi Bicentennial celebrations started on the Coast, with The Band Perry as headliners. The Perry siblings have strong ties to South Mississippi, including grandparents who live in Gulfport. The Governor’s Bicentennial Celebration South Concert was held April 1 under clear skies at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport.
Gulfport Music Festival returned in early October after being on hiatus. The lineup for Oct. 6-7, at Jones Park, included Sister Hazel, Cracker, 3 Doors Down, Young Cannon, Quad City DJs, Mark McGrath, House of Pain, Shaggy and Ludacris. However, Hurricane Nate had other plans for the festival, which had to condense to a one-day event on Oct. 6.
Biloxi Black Beach Weekend featured Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, Yo Gotti, Jeezy, Boosie Badazz, Lloyd, Bianca Clarke, Corey Finesse, BPace and more. The official events brought the biggest crowd in recent years to the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, including the annual Twerk Fest. Black Beach Weekend is one of the largest tourist events on the Coast.
Gulfport on the small screen
“Christmas in Mississippi” a Lifetime channel holiday movie, was filmed in Gulfport and featured the Harbor Lights Festival at Jones Park. The film, starring Jana Kramer, Wes Brown, Faith Ford and Richard Karn, debuted on Lifetime on Dec. 9. More than 1.3 million viewers watched the premiere.
Cruisin’ The Coast
What was set to be the biggest Cruisin’ The Coast yet was cut short by Hurricane Nate, but much fun was still had during the week. A record number of vehicles registered for the 21st annual event, and most participants got to enjoy the many car-related events and musical entertainment before the last two days’ activities were either consolidated or canceled. Many local bands perform at the Cruisin’ venues each day, and headliners like The Beach Boys have returned year after year to play music from the same time period as many of the vintage vehicles.
Shopping gone wrong
Boosie Badazz, aka Torrence Hatch, made headlines when he was pepper-sprayed in Dillard’s at Edgewater Mall in Biloxi on April 9, the day after he performed during Biloxi Black Beach Weekend. A woman who filmed the incident said a large crowd of fans had followed Boosie into the store, and a security guard repeatedly asked them to leave before the spraying incident. She said a uniformed Biloxi officer also was there. Biloxi police Lt. Chris De Back said the security officer was aggressively approached by the crowd after he followed them outside. In October, Boosie filed a lawsuit against Dillard’s, Weiser Security Services, Biloxi Police Department, Jim Wilson & Associates, and an unidentified Biloxi officer.
Taste of the Coast
“Beach Bites with Katie Lee,” the Cooking Channel show hosted by Katie Lee, stayed busy on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 as Lee and crew dashed from one end of the Coast to the other. The show features the cookbook author, television food critic, chef and novelist traveling the world searching for the best local cuisine on coastal settings.
I Love the 90s Tour brought Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Tone Loc, Young MC and other memorable performers from back in the day to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in July. Neon colors and big, big hair were de rigeur for the show. The Sun Herald story announcing the tour was one of the top-read stories of the year.
Representing the Coast
West Harrison High School Marching Band was on national television as the band participated in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Dave Parade. About 50 members of the band also were on NBC’s “Today” show on Nov. 20.
Kenny Rogers included Biloxi in his “Gambler’s Last Deal” farewell tour in August at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. These concerts featured an all-new show, including a reflective look back through his 50-plus-year career.