Ocean Springs businessman, Arturo Barajas, has been hosting May Fest for seven years now. He does it for one reason, and one reason only…it brings him joy. He revels in seeing families stroll the streets of Ocean Springs, happy and safe. He is a music afficionado who loves all genres and eagerly gives bands the opportunity to shine and showcase their talents. May Fest also gives an array of mixed medium artists the beautiful setting in downtown Ocean Springs, where they can display and sell their work. The quaint little shops and charming restaurants that line the streets of downtown are open during the event with sales galore. Guests are welcome to “pop” in and dine or shop at their leisure. The day is packed with wonderful entertainment and great fun for all ages. The event kicks off with a 5 K run on Friday, May 10th, then shifts into high gear the next day beginning at 10:00 a.m. Late night is just for the adults with “after party” action at many of the OS bars and nightclubs.
For the price of one penny per person, that’s right, one penny! You, your family and friends will enjoy a full day of non stop fun and entertainment, which includes live music on two huge stages. This is the first ever, penny admission festival in all of Mississippi. Record breaking attendance is expected, and you want to be sure that you are there and don’t miss a minute of it. Save the dates! The weekend of May 10th will be one you will never forget.
“It is such a huge reward knowing that people appreciate the effort we put in each year. The downtown business owners are very grateful as well because the festival brings in many customers and everyone benefits,” Arturo said. The sponsors of May Fest are fanatical about keeping the event safe and appropriate for everyone, especially children. You will never hear vial language, cursing or sexually explicit lyrics in the music. No inappropriate behavior is tolerated. Arturo assures all guests and visitors that they have no concerns about such things at May Fest. Not once has there ever been an unpleasant incident or an issue with bad behavior. Law enforcement will patrol throughout the day as always for added protection but Arturo is very pleased to say that it has never been necessary. “Our concept is to show off our city as a family friendly place. Blending cultures and experiences in art and music is what May Fest is all about…the day is about having a good time and everyone enjoying being together,” Arturo said.
Each year the format for May Fest changes just a bit to keep things interesting and to raise the bar. Attendance continually goes up and the word is out that May Fest is one of the best events on the Coast! It isn’t gigantic or flashy, it doesn’t draw the biggest names in music, nor does it try to. May Fest is a very special gathering of outstanding artists in music and art who simply love to share what they do with appreciative audiences. Ocean Springs has a reputation as a lovely respite from the ordinary, a place where you can relax and leave your troubles behind – a wonderful little escape. Arturo has lived in the beautiful city for 14 years. He is the proud owner of Mosaic Tapas Restaurant on Government Street, a rather unique place to dine that is like nowhere else on the Coast. Mosaic was the first establishment to offer the hookah experience to it’s customers! The practice has become very popular on the Coast since it was introduced in Ocean Springs.
Arturo and his partners work together to keep costs down and promote the event without compromising on content. May Fest is about getting people together, filling the air with music, and kicking off the Spring season in a very special way. It is not easy to make it work year after year but the thought of not doing May Fest is inconceivable for Arturo. The festival has become so popular that many tourists and guests plan their vacations and weekend get-aways around it! “We do this because it just feels so great to see the reaction of the people. They come to experience a light hearted, tension free, worry free time and I am very happy to provide them with that,” Arturo said. A special May Fest weekend rate is being offered at the beautiful Gulf Hills Resort and Hotel in Ocean Springs (a proud May Fest sponsor) located just minutes from the festivities.
The musical line up is impressive. Local bands are always featured, giving them the rare opportunity to play before thousands of people. The headliners for the 7th edition of May Fest is “Flow Tribe” from New Orleans. They are highly skilled and experienced musicians, who can play everything from Blues to Jazz and Funk, “They are a great fit for the festival, and a great fit for Ocean Springs. They have a huge following and we are very excited to have them,” Arturo said. He has been looking forward to putting the spotlight on Flow Tribe at May Fest for quite some time. All bands were given a list of protocol behavior for the festival. Although no problems are expected, the clean, family friendly, safe environment on stage as well as in the audience is a must. “We have strict guidelines for all the bands who perform at May Fest, and there will be absolutely no profanity. We will not hesitate to step in and stop a performance if things seem to be getting out of hand. This is a family event and we have all ages in attendance from toddlers to advanced senior citizens,” Arturo said. Over 10,000 festival-goers are expected to fill the streets of downtown Ocean Springs this year!
Playing at May Fest is a very desirable gig and bands come from great distances to be a part of the entertainment roster. Reggae bands are coming from Miami and Jacksonville, Florida! Although the fees paid to the bands are not on a grand scale, Arturo gives the musicians many perks and a great deal of exposure. Bands simply love to play here. The Coast is known for it’s hospitality and very involved and attentive audiences. There are 11 bands booked to play on the two big stages that feature everything from Rock & Roll to Folk music. Be sure and check out the complete list of entertainers on the free Play the Coast Ap available now. Also up to the minute information can be found on Facebook or
Guests will enjoy browsing in the many vendors tents that will be set up along the city streets. There will be all sorts of interesting things to look at and learn about. The newest attraction in OS is the Crooked Letter Brewing Company, who are generously sponsoring Stage 2. They are also hosting a “tasting booth” for the first time in the history of May Fest! Four specialty craft beers will be available to try for a small fee. Collectors and souvenir buffs can purchase t-shirts, coozies and other great Crooked Letter stuff as well. Primary sponsor, Budweiser, will serve plenty of their new refreshing spring and summertime malt liquor selections, STRAW-BER-RITA and LIME-A-RITA throughout the day. Arturo is very grateful for the participation of his many sponsors who have helped ensure continued success of this highly anticipated event.
Icy Pint Athletics(IPA), is a running club comprised of Ocean Springs residents. They share a love of running and beer, which are described as “the two greatest things in life” on their Facebook page. IPA has organized a 5 K Run in honor of May Fest. Members meet every Thursday evening at the OS Plaza at 5:30 and begin their run at 6:00. They all meet back to enjoy Happy Hour together at a local bar of their choosing. IPA is a very popular group and is constantly adding new members. “I think it’s so great! Everyone gets in their exercise and then has a special treat as a reward for their hard work,” Arturo said with a big smile. The members call themselves “A drinking club with a running problem!” and obviously have a lot of fun together. The route for the May Fest 5 K begins at the Ocean Springs Plaza at 1010 Government Street. Signs will direct the participants as they move through downtown to the beach and back, accompanied by a police escort. T-shirts and refreshments will be provided for all registered participants. Runners will return to enjoy a special live concert and kick off party at the main stage.
“We may not be the biggest festival on the Mississippi Gulf Coast but we are certainly one that is the most fun. People are excited about May Fest and everyone wants to be a part of it and wants to be here which makes me very happy and proud,” Arturo said. His greatest satisfaction has come from being connected with amazing artists and remarkable talent who come from all over the country to play for audiences in South Mississippi during May Fest. “Our reputation is well known and well respected. These musicians are thrilled to be here, they love the whole experience and that is why they come. This festival is one-of-a-kind and I am honored to have shared my vision for all these years with the artists, the people of Ocean Springs and our guests,” he said.