Thousands gather at Hangout for Kickoff Party

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) – Thousands of people are flocking to Gulf Shores Thursday night, May 15, for the Hangout Music Festival.

Thursday’s kick-off party featured big names like Iron and Wine and Girl Talk.

Festival-goers have been partying at the Hangout Music Festival grounds located on the Gulf Shores Public Beach since 4 p.m., and everyone said they’re stoked for the next three days of music heaven.

“We are (excited for the festival)! We came here last year and it was awesome!” said Clarissa King, who travelled to Gulf Shores from Arkansas for the fest.

All these people are contributing to the local economy of southern Baldwin County.

In a study commissioned by the City of Gulf Shores last year, researchers found the Hangout Festival created some 518 local jobs, and generated some $31 million in purchases of goods and services.

Crews were in full swing putting on the finishing touches amidst the Kickoff Party.

“(We’re) putting the final signs on, putting the finishing touches. We’re cleaning up any of the work mess that we have. But really now, it’s show time,” O’Connell said. “We’re excited, we’re getting ready for the doors to open up. We’re on schedule and things feel really, really good and a lot of new experiences for fans.”

“There’s no doubt that I’m happy to support this town, before the Hangout came here this was a dead weekend, there was nothing going on, the Hangout has come in and really put this together, and it brings so much money to the economy, it’s just an incredible thing,” said local Mobile resident, James West, who attended Thursday’s festivities.

“Everybody is just excited to be here! Right, they let loose and it truly is a party. And if you look at the Hangout, all weekend long, the Hangout is world’s biggest beach party,” Festival Director Sean O’Connell said.

The Hangout Music Festival brings in people from all over the world, and all over the country, giving the City of Gulf Shores more publicity for the future.

“We’re having a good time on account of we got 19 friends with us, we never get to see one another, we’re all from different states, coming together gives us a real sense of community,” said one festival-goer.

One of those new features this year is the “Marriage Tent.” A few people already have planned their weddings to take place on the beach, but anyone is welcome to get a three-day marriage license, even if the honeymoon only lasts the length of the festival.

The Hangout Music Festival brings together thousands of people from all over all for the love of good music.

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