Mermaids Arts and Crafts Show
After a twenty-year hiatus, Bay St. Louis will once again by hosting a dedicated arts and crafts show. This first-time fundraiser for the Nereids Mardi Gras Krewe is expected to attract dozens of artists and thousands of shoppers on Sept. 17 - 18.
- story by Ellis Anderson
The show will take place on September 17th and 18th on the grounds of the Bay St. Louis Depot. Saturday hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, the show will be open from 11a.m.–4 p.m. Organizers have mapped out space for 100 vendors and at press time, more than half have been spoken for.
Beth Gruzinskas, a longtime Nereids member and in charge of publicity for the arts and crafts show, says that the depot grounds location is perfect in more ways than one.
It offers paths and shade that vendors and patrons both love and lots of parking nearby (St. Stanislaus is offering their field across the street for the event). The historic depot is also just a few blocks from the retail action and restaurants in Old Town’s commercial district.
“We’re calling it a destination weekend,” says Beth. “While people are at the show, they can shop around the rest of Old Town, restaurants and all the businesses. The hotels, the bed and breakfasts and the vacation rentals will also benefit. We’re working to promote the whole area, not just our show.”
The depot location also gives plenty of room for potential expansion in the future. And there’s good reason to think that they’d need it. Bay St. Louis already has a regional reputation as an artists’ colony. While it hosts the popular Arts Alive event each spring, with demonstrating artists and art competitions set up throughout the commercial district, there hasn’t been a dedicated art show in the Bay for at least twenty years.
The idea for a show in Bay St. Louis came about last fall, when members heard that the long-standing Diamondhead Arts and Crafts show was being disbanded. They decided to fill the vacuum by hosting the Mermaids show in Bay St. Louis on the same weekend. While the Diamondhead show was later revived by another group and will also take place that weekend, organizers believe that the two can complement each other, instead of competing.
Mary Ann Pucheu, who’s in charge of the vendors, says the goal is quality. Participating artists must make at least 50 percent of the product they’ll be selling. For instance, a vendor would be able to sell a picture frame, but only if they’ve decorated it themselves.
She says that the applications are coming in daily and will be considered until the show has filled all the available slots. So far, the show has accepted artists who’ll be showing handmade jewelry, pottery, glass and fine art. Vendors can get an application HERE.
Photos of vendors’ work are being posted almost daily on the Mermaid Arts and Crafts Facebook page.
Over the weekend, Nereids will have a booth selling hot dogs and hamburgers, while Phil Williams, the Bay St. Louis bbq legend, will also be offering his smoked specialties. But the focus will be on art. Shoppers will be encouraged to check out local restaurants in the Depot District and in the Old Town commercial district a few blocks away. Don’t feel like walking far? The Bay St. Louis trolley will be running throughout the weekend, stopping at the depot grounds each hour.
Although the Visitors’ Center, the Alice Moseley Museum and the Mardi Gras Museum in the historic depot will be closed during the event, shoppers will hopefully want to return later. Those who do will find that the Mardi Gras Museum stars a collection of retired Nereids’ costumes.
“All the fantastic costumes on display were designed and made for Nereids,” says Beth. “They’re all amazing — each one is a work of art.”