June is the beginning of blueberry season, so there is no better way to spend the first Saturday in June than to enjoy the annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival in downtown Ocean Springs.
“We have it every June here in downtown, and what it is, we partner with the Ocean Springs Fresh Market,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “They beef up the vendors. We have blueberry growers, we have blueberry lemonade out here. We have all kinds of other good stuff. Then, courtesy of the Chamber, we give away free vanilla ice cream topped with blueberries from the vendors and strawberries. In addition to all of that, we have some cooking demonstrations out and here and some talks from the master gardeners, so it’s a fun day.”
Mixed amongst the usual Fresh Market vendors selling local produce, baked goods, and homemade crafts were tents specializing in blueberry treats, from fresh fruit to blueberry lemonade, a drink that was a welcome refreshment to the afternoon humidity caused by the morning showers. While it did rain during the festival, that did not seem to scare away any customers.
“The rain hasn’t kept anybody away,” Sutton said. “It has been amazing. I can’t tell you how many cups of ice cream we’ve given out so far, but the line has gone halfway through the fresh market, so it’s been a great turn out.”
During the festival, a shower did make an appearance, but that did not drive customers away. Knowing South Mississippi weather, some attendees took shelter from the rain under the train depot awning, choosing to wait 10 minutes for the sun to come back out. Some visitors simply pulled out their umbrellas, and others just walked through the rain completely unfazed and determined to get some good deals on some local goods. A few children even took the opportunity to splash in some puddles.
Other blueberry offerings included jams, blueberry baked goods and even a blueberry-pepper jelly, unique yet deliciously sweet and spicy offering from The Grumpy Man out of Purvis.
Visitors of all ages, from retirees looking for a fun weekend event and ways to supplement their home gardens to new parents needing a chance to get out of the house and also expose their young children to healthy eating at an early age, took the opportunity for experience this annual event as welcome to the summer season and get them exploring downtown Ocean Springs.
For anyone that might have missed the Red, White & Blueberry Festival, the Fresh Market will continue in Ocean Springs every Saturday, and with blueberry season still in its infancy, there is sure to be no shortage of blueberry offerings in the weeks to come.