Celebrate the Gulf

Families Celebrate the Importance of the Gulf of Mexico at Marine Education Festival

April 11, 2015   Hours:  10 AM – 3 PM
War Memorial Park in Pass Christian, MS

Each year, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources’ Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve coordinates with local government and business partners including the NOAA Pascagoula Fisheries Lab and the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to host an award-winning, one-day family festival called Celebrate the Gulf in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The Reserve designs this festival to inspire people to protect the Gulf of Mexico. During this outdoor festival, more than 25 exhibitors engage people of all ages, especially schoolchildren, in hands-on activities and presentations about the Gulf. The exhibitors use art, recycling, touch tanks with live animals, reading and other activities to excite the public about protecting the health of our coastal habitats.

The festival takes place adjacent to a two-day festival called Art in the Pass.This unique partnership benefits both festivals. Artists and art patrons from the art festival now visit the environmental festival regularly, and Celebrate the Gulf’s visitors that include coastal citizens and schoolchildren attend the adjacent art festival. This partnership is a win-win situation for both festivals. The Reserve is working to tie our two festivals together even more tightly by seeking additional funding to expand a Marine Cuisine Tent that both festivals will support to promote locally harvested seafood and the culinary arts.

The attendees of this festival speak very highly of Celebrate the Gulf and often return year after year. When festival participants were asked if there was any information that they learned at the festival that they would apply elsewhere, Mary Morris, a chef, said, “I will help clean the beaches.” Cheryl, a manager, said that she would “be vigilant about recycling” Paula, a health professional, said she would share the information “with her grandchildren”. Our exhibitors are also very loyal to our festival. “I feel having the art show and the environmental exhibits together help bring in more people. It is a good mix and size because there are not too many of either to be overwhelming.” said Deb Veeder, Exhibitor from Mississippi Wildlife Federation.

The University of Southern Mississippi conducted an economic impact study for the combined Art in the Pass and Celebrate the Gulf festivals this past spring. The study estimated that 6,864 people attended the festivals over the weekend. Visitors from out of town generated approximately $370,000 in earnings income to the economy. Local residents spent over $165,000 on purchases. This study confirms that in addition to its educational goals, Celebrate the Gulf also helps boost the economy in the local community.

For more information please contact: Jennifer Buchanan, Education Coordinator Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Email or call 228.475.7047

A special thanks to our sponsors:  MS Dept. of Marine Resources, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi Power Company, Dupont, Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, City of Pass Christian, EPA Gulf of Mexico Program and Ingalls Shipbuilding

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