Waveland preps for first annual Oyster Festival

The city of Waveland has found a creative way to celebrate the reopening of the Garfield Ladner Pier on April 10.

On the same day, the pier will be reopened to the public, the city–in conjunction with the Waveland Community Coalition and the Hancock County Tourism Bureau– will host the first ever Oyster Festival at the foot of the pier.

“Oysters are the number one seafood crop in Hancock County and they should be celebrated,” Mayor Tommy Longo said Monday. “The reopening of the pier is a huge milestone in the city’s recovery. We want to invite everyone out for a day of family-oriented fun.”

The official ribbon cutting of the pier will be at 10 a.m. on April 10.

After that, the Oyster Fest will begin and the day will culminate in the evening with a fireworks display over the Mississippi Sound.

“This event needs to be celebrated in a big way,” Charlie Cornelius, President of the Waveland Community Coalition said Tuesday.

“What is being created is book-end festivals for the city with Oyster Fest in April and Wave Fest at the end of summer.”

The day’s activities will include live music, food, and beverages from local merchants, water sides and jumps for children, a children’s fishing rodeo, a sand-sculpting contest, and more, officials said.

Cornelius said although the event was just planned recently, he is hoping for a big day.

Last month, Cornelius approached the Waveland Board of Aldermen about the event.

At first the aldermen were cautious, citing the tough budget situation the city is in. At a special meeting,, the board voted 2-2 to support the event.

Longo used his mayoral vote to break the tie and assure the festival would be a go.

“We wanted to do something to commemorate the reopening of the pier,” Longo said. “This is going to be a very special day for Waveland.”

The $4 million pier project has been under way since last summer.

The new pier will be about 1,200 feet in length, offering six covered picnic areas, men’s and women’s bathrooms, a bait shop, and ranger’s station.

A new black-topped entrance will accommodate parking and there will be 15 covered benches along the pier for residents to enjoy the view, officials said.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the pier was a popular fishing site for local sportsmen.

It was named after long-time Waveland Mayor Garfield Ladner.

BY Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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