SOUTH COAST SUMMERFEST Participants from last year’s South Coast SummerFest take to the water.
South Coast SummerFest is 10 days that celebrate paddling along waterways in Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, D’Iberville, Long Beach, Gautier, Pascagoula and Ocean Springs.
The festival kicks off in grand style Friday with the Biloxi High School football and baseball teams competing in a relay race for the Mayor’s Cup Kayak Challenge on the beach at the Biloxi Lighthouse. This first-time race for bragging rights is preceded by hours of family activities and DJ music on the beach.
On Saturday, the festival moves to Bay St. Louis for a kayaking poker run and downtown block party. Sunday, paddlers will be on the bay in D’Iberville for a decorated kayak competition and twilight parade on the water.
In the second year of SummerFest, promoters have gone to great lengths to create a diverse list of events, both big and small. Through community gatherings, competitions, smaller eco-tours and educational events, SummerFest utilizes many coastal waterways in offering something for everyone.
The Reel Paddling Film Festival at the Biloxi Visitors Center offers 10 days of free screenings of films inspired by paddling and adventure. Tours held on weekdays invite paddlers to explore the Coast’s rivers, bayous, marshes and lakes.
Educational events include a campfire cooking class at the Discovery Center in Long Beach on June 18. A nature photography workshop is June 20 at the Mississippi Sand Hill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Gautier. Kayaking basics will be offered in conjunction with many of the large gatherings.
The second weekend will include Paddlepalooza at Lighthouse Park in Pascagoula. In addition to kayaking tours, there will be opportunities for kayaking newbies, live music and events on land.
The fourth annual Ocean Springs Kayak Festival on June 22 will be the final event. It begins with a duathlon expected to draw 100 participants or more. The full day of events includes demonstrations, kayak fishing and drag racing, and a final twilight paddle to Deer Island for overnight camping.
Promoter Leah Bray said registration is up significantly from last year. Participants may register throughout the first week at the Biloxi Visitors Center between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Registration information for individual events and classes and a full list of events are at SouthCoastSummerFest.com or call 872-2030. Spectator admission is free.