Gulfport Music Festival 2011

By: Nancy Marchbanks
In the nights of Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th, the city of Gulfport will host spectacular concerts featuring multi genre recording artists that will fill the streets of downtown with sweet, sweet music. The Gulfport Music Festival already has everyone talking, and everyone wants to be there. Rain or shine this is going to be the biggest block party ever! The Festival is a family friendly event – kids 10 and under get in for five bucks, and adult tickets are a steal. No need to bring anything, food and drinks will be available from favorite Coast restaurants, and there will be lots of choices. So come on out for a guaranteed great time…you won’t want to miss the first annual Gulfport Music Festival.
Friday night is all about Country, and the hottest stars will take the stage beginning with headliners Montgomery Gentry. Their albums have produced more than twenty chart singles, with five # 1’s. The Academy of Country Music awarded them with Top New Vocal Duo in 2000 and they won Favorite New Country Artist that same year at the American Music Awards. David Nail will join Montgomery Gentry in the Country line up. He is a Grammy nominated artist, with a huge Top 10 single, “Red Light” from his first release with MCA Nashville. Singer-songwriter Jason Michael Carroll will perform for the crowds. He is riding high on the success of his first two Country albums that have given him 5 Top 40 hits. Then sit back and drink in the beautiful harmonies of American Country Music duo Steel Magnolia. They were discovered on the television show, “Can You Duet” and took home the grand prize. They signed with Big Machine Records and released “Keep On Lovin You” which quickly climbed the charts to a Top 10 hit.
Saturday night is for those with a very special, ecclectic taste in music. This concert is going to be an exciting mix of the most popular artists playing on the radio, and on iTunes today. Train will headline the evening with their Multi-platinum, Grammy award winning songs. “Hey Soul Sister” was the most downloaded song in 2010! The members of Train are enjoying a brand new beginning and incredible success after being away from the music scene for three years. Next, Flo Rida will have everyone reeling when he takes the stage and performs one of the biggest radio songs over the past five years, “Low.” Jamaican singer and rapper, Sean Kingston will keep the party going with his special brand of artistry. He has a string of # 1 singles with more on the way. And wrapping up their European tour, the band Neon Trees will be coming directly to Gulfport from their last gig overseas in order to be a part of the Music Festival. Their # 1 hit, “Animal” was recently the biggest Alternative song in America. Saturday night will undoubtedly blow the roof off in downtown Gulfport.
The Gulfport Music Festival is sponsored by Budweiser (Rex Distributing) and Pepsi (Allen Beverages). The key players in putting this thing together and making it happen are Kenny Vest, Operations Manager for Mississippi Media and his associates Bill West, Market V.P and Ricky Mitchell, Director of Sales. Ryan LaFontaine in Mayor Schloegel’s office handled all the logistics, and without him the Gulfport Music Festival would not have been possible. Discussions began in 2010, and it took several months to solidify all the plans. Ticket sales are brisk and the outpouring of support and excitement throughout the Coast insures for a very successful event. “All of us are very confident tht the 2nd Annual Gulfport Music Festival is a very real possibility, but we cannot say for sure where the event will be held next year,” said Ryan LaFontaine.
Kenny Vest is a veteran of outdoor music festivals. He created the Zephyr Fest which had a very long and successful run in New Orleans. He was the driving force behind the development of the CPR Fests, which he started 16 years ago. Kenny, Bill, and Ryan wanted to have a music festival on the Coast, that catered to fans who enjoy a wide array of musical styles, something representing many genres. They envisioned the event bringing tourists in from all over the country which would in turn fill the local hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, etc. It was a “win/win” situation for the city of Gulfport and the entire Coast. “These events are tremendous economic generators for their host cities and the surrounding areas. We expect the Gulfport Music Festival to be a big boost for our economy year after year,” Ryan LaFontaine said.
The Gulfport Police Department and private security will ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone during the Festival. There will be a major police presence in and around the Festival grounds at all times. 13th Street, just west of Hwy 49 to the railroad tracks will be blocked off, as well as parts of 26th and 27th streets. “Business owners in the district are very excited about the possibility that more than 10,000 people will be walking the streets of downtown Gulfport,” said Ryan LaFontaine. Pets are not allowed. To be sure that you are not turned away at the gate, please check the list of what is and what is not permitted on the GMF website,
Parking will be available at the CTA garage on 15th Street and at the Harrison County garage on 24th Avenue. The CTA will be running a free shuttle from both garages to the Festival gates. The shuttle will run during the Festival. On street parking will be available throughout downtown, and the city of Gulfport has secured several additional parking lots that will be clearly marked as “Event Parking.”
Tickets are going fast and this event is expected to sell out. Don’t miss it.

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