The popular Alice Moseley Festival, sidelined by the pandemic, returns on April 23 with a new direction – and a new name.
- by Ellis Anderson
One of the Bay’s festivals makes a reappearance on April 23 – with a new name and a new cause. Formerly known as the Alice Moseley Festival , the popular event delighted crowds in 2019 with a top musical line-up.
Now, it has evolved into the Mississippi Heroes Celebration. The no-admission festival, which will be held at Commagere Park in Bay St. Louis, will again offer a stellar roster of musicians – as well as a crawfish boil, kids’ area, and artisan booths.
Lonnie Falgout, one of the celebration’s organizers, also serves as the executive director for the Alice Moseley Museum and the foundation named after the venerated folk artist. Falgout said the Alice Moseley Festivals in 2018 and 2019 made a big hit with the public.
The event was hitting its stride and was well on its way to becoming a favorite annual happening when COVID surges caused its cancellation in both 2020 and 2021.
In the meantime, in February 2021, the tragic death of Lieutenant Michael Boutte, Sr. of the Hancock County Sheriff’s office stunned the community. The veteran officer was gunned down while responding to a call. In April of that year, Falgout helped organize a crawfish boil to honor the fallen officer and raised money for a namesake scholarship fund.
Just a few months later in June, the coast community reeled again when a young lineman lost his life on the job. After Cayce Seal, son of Bay St. Louis long-time city councilman Doug Seal and his wife Michelle, died from electrical shock, the outpouring of condolences reverberated across the region.
Falgout, who had become part of a coast organization called Mississippi Heroes, began to rethink the Alice Moseley Festival.
“I was invited to join the organization and after investigating their work, I came away tremendously impressed,” said Falgout. “Mississippi Heroes serves the nurses, health care workers and first responders in so many ways, making life easier for them and their families. They do some extraordinary work, and I am proud now to be part of it.”
According to Falgout, several partners pulled together with the Alice Moseley Foundation and Mississippi Heroes to reshape the Alice Moseley Festival, including Hancock County Tourism and Visit Mississippi. The result is the April 23 celebration.
The grounds of the Bay's historic depot, where the Alice Moseley Museum has its home, have hosted the festival in previous years. This year, due to improvements happening around the depot, the Heroes Celebration will take place just a few blocks away, at Commagere Park, located at Bookter Street and St. Francis Street (near where Old Spanish Trail meets Dunbar Avenue).
The day begins at 8 am with a 5k run and one-mile Fun Run/Walk through Old Town Bay St. Louis. Falgout stressed that people of all ages and fitness levels are welcome, with medals and race t-shirts available. Participants can register online in advance or on the morning of the event.
The celebration itself starts gearing up at 10 am. Like the original festival, no admission will be charged (although donations are welcome), and people will be able to listen to top regional talent for free from 11 am to 6:30 pm.
The entertainment is underwritten by Champion Dodge and features The Glory Rhodes, Assumed Risk, the St. Rose Gospel Choir, Joni Compretta and Baytown Groove, and headliner Monsters at Large, featuring Tommy Moran, Gene Moran, Regan Taylor, Casey Lipe, Sam Brady, Lee Seal, and Chuck Lofton. The gig is an especially meaningful one to the Moran brothers – Casey Seal was their nephew.
Falgout is also excited about the St. Rose de Lima Gospel Choir’s appearance. He said it will be the first time the full choir has performed for the public in three years.
The crawfish boil will start serving at 11 am, with mudbugs and fixings donated by Hot Tails Seafood in Diamondhead. A 3 – 3½ pound platter with crawfish, sausage, corn and potatoes will sell for $12, with all proceeds going to the Boutte-Seal Scholarship fund.
Falgout said that last year for the Boutte event, they anticipated hungry crowds, but still sold out of 1,500 pounds of crawfish in less than four hours. This year, organizers have upped the amount of crawfish to a full ton. Still, plan on coming earlier in the day if you’re craving crawfish.
Fabulous Franny will be offering soul food, including “the best brisket sandwich you’ve ever tasted,” and Pauley’s will be selling sno-balls. A beer tent will be pouring the suds throughout the day to help raise scholarship funds, courtesy of Daquiri Shak in Bay St. Louis.
Five bucks will purchase an all-day pass in the kids’s area, with a bouncy house maze and a nifty obstacle course supplied by Water Slides of the Coast. Booths will offer everything from crafts by local artisans to information from some of the area’s non-profits.
The highlight of the day will come at 3 pm, when two scholarships in the names of Michael Boutte and Cayce Seal will be awarded. The recipient of the Cayce Seal Caregiver Award will also be announced. Michael Boutte’s widow, Jennifer, and the Seal family will be presenting the awards.
Doug Seal said that his family is “honored and humbled” at the outpouring of generosity in the memory of Cayce.
“After his death, there was an outpouring of stories about how Casey affected people’s lives, never wanting anything in return except to be a friend. He was very inclusive and never met a stranger.
“We have never asked for any recognition for Cayce,” Seal said. “But it’s good to raise awareness and general understanding of those who put their lives on the line for us while we don’t really think about it. They’re all unsung heroes.”
Joining dozens of others at this volunteer-driven event, Jennifer Boutte will be working both the crawfish and the donation booths. Doug Seal plans to run in the 5k and then spend the rest of the day lending a hand, too.
“I’ll be working behind the scenes,” he said. “Setting up, taking out the trash, whatever needs to be done.”
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