by Calvin Ishee

In spite of heavy fog on Saturday and the ongoing threat of rain and thunderstorms, Artists and Art in the Pass goers stated this year’s event was the “best they’ve ever seen”. 90 artists from 16 states enjoyed not only the huge crowds, but also the amount of sales generated from this year’s event. A couple of artists even stated that they almost sold out of merchandise on the first day of Art in the Pass.

Ocean Springs painter Rodney Hedgecock and Biloxi photographer Alex North commented that they truly look forward to coming to the Pass each and every year. Rodney stated “I absolutely love coming here and enjoy the great crowds of art enthusiasts. This is by far one of the best if not the best art related events on the Coast”.

Furthermore, several of the vendors stated that they absolutely love this event and would truly enjoy living here. An artist from Covington, Louisiana said that she has already purchased land and is building a new house in Pass Christian. Another artist from Western Arkansas, stated that this was his second year and was seriously thinking about moving to the Pass as well. They noted the beauty of the Coast, the extremely friendly local residents and the outstanding community of local artists.

A special feature of Art in the Pass included the very popular Student Art Tent. 80 high school students submitted original artworks in 5 categories and judges awarded cash and medals for those placing 1st-3rd in each category. Best in Show winner was Jasmine Swasa of Long Beach High School. Art in the Pass Scholarship Winners included Samantha Leon from West Harrison High School, $2,000; Austin Maskew, Harrison Central High School,$4,500 and Jessica Salaun, Pass Christian High School $4,500. Isabel Gelpi from Our Lady Academy won the $1,000 Dusti Bonge’ Art Foundation Scholarship.

According to Betty Sparkman, Art in the Pass Chair, attendance was over 9,000 and nearly $100,000 was generated by artists and food vendors. Under the auspices of Pass Christian Main Street, a 501(c)(3) organization, Art in the Pass uses it’s portion of the proceeds to support its mission of offering scholarships to art education students in Harrison and Hancock counties, significant grants for art supplies to the Pass Christian School District, the Boys and Girls Club and the 10 areas high schools.

As the old saying goes, “there’s no rest for the weary”. Even though this year’s highly successful event is over, planning for the 2020 will begin again shortly.