OCEAN SPRINGS - Scattered showers failed to keep crowds away from the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival for most of Saturday.
Festival volunteer John Johnson, who was working the information booth at the east entrance on Government Street all day, estimated about 25,000 to 30,000 people had come through the gate as of about 1 p.m.
A short rain shower about 12:30 p.m. sent some rushing for cover, but most returned when the downpour stopped, Johnson said.
"There was a mass exodus when it started raining, but now they're coming back," he said. "It didn't rain for long -- only about 20 minutes."
A light drizzle returned just before 2 p.m., but most attendees seemed not to care.
Saturday marked the festival's 37th year, with hundreds of booths displaying the works of artists, musicians and vendors.
Kyle Finan of Baton Rouge said it was his eighth year attending the fest.
He remarked on the seemingly endless route of displays and the difficulty some artists might have trying to stand out from the crowded pool of talent.
"I think I like the things I thought I wouldn't see," he said. "There are some things that are just unique and eclectic."
How to stand out
Spencer Gray Jr., a craftsman from Pass Christian, appeared to have the formula for what Finan described as "unique and eclectic."
Near the corner of Washington and Government streets, Gray's booth of handcrafted metal sculptures seemed magnetic as almost every festival-goer who walked by stopped to look and ask about his work.
"It's all about imagination," Gray said, describing his pieces. "It's about what's going on in a child's mind."
His largest piece was made out of pots, pans, spoons and various other household items that came together to form an almost realistic, child-sized metal racecar. The piece resembled a cart a child could drive down a sidewalk.
Describing how he built the racecar, Gray refrained from speaking in first-person, almost as if someone else had built it.
"He's tinkering in his backyard, putting this together with his mom's pots and pans, spoons and forks," he said, pointing to an imaginary character in the driver's seat. "In this scene, the imagination is coming to life, and the car is racing down the street."
His inner child
Gray said he describes his work as if someone else is the artist because he separates his adult mind from his artistic imagination whenever he works on a sculpture.
"I literally let go of myself and let this little kid build it right here," he said. "I have to think as a kid and not as an adult because kids don't build with precision and straight lines. Everything is sort of crooked."
Another standout was photographer Sean Parol's exhibit in the 700 block of Washington Avenue, featuring vivid, colorful photos on sheets of aluminum.
Parol, of Biloxi, described himself as a "serious hobbyist" of photography. Many of his shots are of local landscapes along the Coast, capturing the bright colors of a rising or setting sun on the Mississippi Sound.
Parol said he simply takes the photos and pays a company to infuse them on the aluminum sheets. The process turns each shot into a ready-to-hang, self-framed photo that appears as bright and vivid as a high-definition monitor.
"This is actually the first festival I've ever displayed at," he said. "They're an eye-catcher. The first time I saw one I thought it was a monitor."
For others, such as Jonathan Kilgore of D'Iberville, the Peter Anderson fest provides more than art.
"I like it for the social aspect," Kilgore said. "I like the art and exhibits, but I also like the community aspect of it all."
The festival continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.