Loblolly: The Power of the Historical Name

If you’ve ever stepped foot in or near Laurel, Mississippi when the pollen is falling in sheets and buckets, then you’ve experienced an integral part of being a true southerner — the love (and hate) of the southern pine tree.

The tall, resilient pine has long been the backdrop of the storied history of Laurel, Mississippi.

The Town That Timber Built

As the Eastmans, Gardiners and Rogers came in from Iowa to settle right here in Jones County it was the tall, swaying, yellow pines surrounded by beautiful, flowering Laurel bushes that inspired them to stay.

Industry – and the livelihoods it provided – was beckoning to their entrepreneurial souls, and soon The Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Co. was founded and Laurel became the yellow pine capital of the world.

The history of Laurel, MS Central Ave in Historical Laurel, MS


Like many great innovators before him, John Lindsey watched the progress of the ever-growing lumber town. He recognized a need and created a way to solve it. Soon, The 8-wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon was patented and folks from all over the world came to hear of a little town in South Mississippi.

Next, Laurel Machine & Foundry was created to supply parts for the wagon and William H. Mason invented a process to create a hardboard from the waste provided by the mills, supplying the little piney woods town with more jobs and more opportunities for growth.

The History of Masonite Corporation

Each inspiration, each problem solved was another brick laid in the bustling streets of a town on the rise. Laurel owes its foundation and its very spirit to the yellow Loblolly pine and those who saw ever-present opportunity even as the pollen covered their boots.

Be a #LoblollyLover and join us on Saturday, October 7, 2017 for a celebration of heritage in the town that timber built.


December Downtown 2016

If you take a drive around the historic district in the coming weeks, there’s one truth you won’t be able to miss – we love Christmas in Downtown Laurel!

From the incredible display at Mason Park to shining Christmas trees decorating each home on the Avenues and wreaths lining the streets of downtown and on to our favorite display of all, the official city Christmas tree in Pinehurst Park, we celebrate our favorite season like no one else!

But nothing says Christmas in Laurel more than the official lighting of that cherished tree, and we’d love to have you celebrate this special occasion with us.


The Lighting of the 2016 Downtown Laurel Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 1st | 5:30 PM Till

Sponsored by BancorpSouth, the City of Laurel and Laurel Main Street

Join us Thursday at 5:30 PM as we begin the festivities.

The official welcome will be delivered by Mallorie Rasberry, president of Laurel Main Street, and Mayor Johnny Magee will give a greeting. Soon after 6:00 the park will spring to life as Ray Palmer, President of BancorpSouth, lights our beloved Downtown Christmas Tree.

At various points in the evening, you’ll enjoy performances by the Highland Baptist Church Choir, Laurel Ballet Academy, Life Church Strings, St. John’s Episcopal Children’s Choir, Laurel High Singers, Maddox Elementary Choir, and Mason Elementary Handbell Choir.

Special refreshments will be on hand provided by BancorpSouth.

What to do after the lighting

After the tree is lit and the performances are completed, don’t miss the festivities at the Laurel-Jones County Library Open House beginning at 6:00. Bring the kids to meet Santa and to get some great holiday treats and hot cocoa. Children will have an opportunity to make a Christmas ornament and get their faces painted.

Grab a brown bag dinner of one of The Knight Butcher’s great burgers between 4-7pm. Enjoy dinner on the patio or take it over to the park for a picnic.

Southern Antiques, Patina’s, The Knight Butcher, Adam Trest Home, JParker, New Look, Seventh Style, The Loft, Lee’s, Sweet Something’s Bakery, Peddler’s Junktion, Office Products, Sweet Daddy’s Pop Shop, and Closet Candy will be extending their hours for the event so be sure to visit them to pick up some unique holiday gifts!

Join us Thursday at 5:30 at Pinehurst Park in Downtown Laurel to kick off the 2016 holiday season!

The 2 people who will make or break Laurel’s #shopsmall movement

Historic Laurel Leader Call“Once a Year Value” “You Must Come See!”

The advertisements scream at me as I look through a yellowed issue of the Laurel Leader Call from 1978.

“Red Hot Bargains!” “Big Clearance Sale!”

Who were they talking to? Did they even know?

Near the bottom of each ad is a little statement that reads “Downtown Laurel Mall.” At the top of each – a business name that is unfamiliar to the downtown we know today.

Nearly 40 years later we are at a tipping point.

Now, we see what used to be the remains of a once-bustling city center bursting back into life. Now, we see change ahead.

But who will be responsible if we fail, like so many before us?

It’s you, entrepreneur.

If you’re like me you live and breathe your business. Our ability to love our business is nearly unshakable.

It’s in this love, this blind adoration, that we lose sight of what it feels like for those standing on the other side of the “open” sign. It is this self-love that causes us to scream at those we hope will step through our doors. “1 day sale!” “Best!” “Quality!”

But it never works – not really, not sustainably.

Why don’t they love our businesses the way we do?

In my marketing and growth work with local businesses and main street programs I’m finding this seemingly hidden truth – empathy is the key to success.

It’s not your love for your business that will spell out your success, but your love, your true undying love for those who walk through your doors that will carry you through.

Our very best marketing successes, the rebranding and websites and stories that truly shake even my own understanding of what local businesses are capable of, are all based in empathy – in a deep understanding of the people who are able to see your business the way you do.

On November 26th, we will join together with businesses all over the country to promote our businesses for Small Business Saturday and the #shopsmall movement.

But this year I want to see real success.

On November 15th we will come together at the Downtown Merchants meeting to brainstorm ideas. We will work together to find the best way to love on our people, and I will be on hand to help you with specific ideas for your business. The meeting will be held in the conference room at the 1st National Bank building beginning at 5:30.

This year I want to see our downtown businesses show up and show out in love for our local folks. I want to see products and services designed just for our people.

I want to see events that show an understanding of our people and what they actually want from us. I want you guys, the downtown entrepreneurs, to make this event the biggest show of love a town has ever seen.

Pull off your blinders, see our people, and show them that we don’t take them for granted. Show them what Laurel-love looks like, and I will stake my reputation on your success.

If you love, really love, we cannot fail.

But local folks, it’s up to you too.

I know you. I am you.

I walk the streets of Downtown Laurel wondering what is coming next. What will be in this old building, or that one? We need this, or that, or that other thing!

I talk with friends and family about what is happening here and feel excitement for all that is to come. I feel excited because I feel that finally – Laurel is becoming the home town I always wanted.

But who made us spectators?

Who said it was ok for us to sit back and watch and wait and hope for new things to come?

Even if you don’t feel the pull to risk your savings on a new business, or don’t choose to buy a home in the historic district, or don’t want to serve on a committee or volunteer at an event – it is still up to you to play a part in making our home town into something we can be proud of.

It is up to you to support the folks who are doing those things. It is up to you to love them back.

Our downtown businesses have been preparing for you for a long time.

They’ve spent so much time hunting for just the thing you’ve been looking for. They’ve been traveling across the country to markets looking for unique items that seem to be made just for our Laurel folks.

They have used their talents to craft and create one-of-a-kind items just for you.

They’ve spent countless hours deep into the night making their shops worthy of your visit. You are their guests – and they are waiting for you.

On Saturday November 26th you have the opportunity and responsibility to give back to those who have been working so hard.

Here is how you can love them back:

Today –

Make a true, honest and loving commitment to spend a portion of your Christmas shopping budget in locally-owned businesses. Write it down. Tell someone. Hold yourself to it.

This week –

Much like you would tell the world if your child or grandchild won an award or was performing in a play, tell others about what is happening in the town you love so much. And ask them to commit to supporting it as well. This means sharing your commitment on Facebook, calling or texting a friend, or telling your family about it at the next get-together.

Saturday, November 26th –

Show up for those you love.

Come to Downtown (or to any local Laurel business) and actually put that commitment to the test. Spend in our local shops, buy one-of-a-kind gifts, and show your friends and family what it means when you say “#iliveinlaurel.”

Downtown entrepreneurs and Laurel folks – it is up to you. You will make or break not only Small Business Saturday, but the future of our hometown. It is us, the folks who love this town and want to see her become a shining beacon of success, who are most responsible for the outcome.

Make a commitment to show out in love November 26th, and we will show the world what it looks like when Laurel refuses to fail.

Thank you for making Loblolly 2016 our best yet!

That’s a wrap!

With 12,000 people coming out to stroll through the streets of Downtown Laurel, listen to great music, enjoy delicious food and to shop, shop, shop, this year’s Loblolly Festival was a grand success!

THANK YOU to all who worked so hard to make this our best year yet!

We would first like to thank the LMS volunteers and board members for making this day possible and for helping us organize this incredible event. The Loblolly Festival just wouldn’t be possible without you!

Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors and producers especially Jones County Mississippi, HowardStore.com, CSpire, South Central Regional Medical CenterSouthern Beverage Co., Sanderson Farms, Trustmark National Bank!

To the City of Laurel, the Laurel Police Department, Laurel Fire Department and Parks & Recreation Department – thank you for your support and for helping to keep the festival-goers, vendors, musicians and volunteers safe!

Many organizations came together to cover the logistics of producing an event of this size. We are so appreciative of your time and efforts to make this all possible.

Thank you to Clairmont Designs for hosting our Children’s Art Area, and STEM Discoveries for hosting our Children’s Science Area!

Thank you to Dayton Scoggins and the ladies from “Birds of Prey” for educating and entertaining us during the festival.

We appreciate the efforts of the local media and your continued support and coverage of this great event. With your help we were able to reach and serve more locals and out of town folks than ever before! Thank you specifically to the Laurel Leader Call for the fabulous 2016 Loblolly Festival Guide printed in last week’s paper and for coverage in the new Dime Magazine before the event, to The Chronicle and WDAM for always being so gracious to cover our events, and to all others who helped spread the word!

Lastly – thank you so much to the residents and business owners of Downtown Laurel. Your help in clearing the streets before the festival and in graciously allowing us to fill the downtown area with tents and jumps, trains and food trucks, is absolutely vital to the success of an event such as this. Your continued support for the efforts of the Laurel Main Street initiatives makes us so proud to call Downtown Laurel home!

See y’all next year at the 2017 Loblolly Festival!

img_98901 img_99111 img_99071 img_99001 img_98991 img_98981img_98921 img_98911img_98931

It’s time for the 2016 Loblolly Festival- the best one yet!

Small town festivals aren’t about the vendors, the funnel cakes or the music – they’re about the people who call that tiny town home, and the celebration of all of the things that make it deserving of the name.

In a few short days we will celebrate our beautiful home town during the 2016 Loblolly Festival sponsored by Jones County Mississippi, Howard IndustriesSouthern Beverage Co., South Central Regional Medical Center, C-Spire Wireless,  Sanderson Farms and Trustmark National Bank. Will you join us?

The Loblolly Experience
Celebrating Laurel, Mississippi

2014 Loblolly Festival Crowd

Every year the Loblolly Festival draws craftsmen, cooks, artists and musicians together atop the historic, brick streets of Downtown Laurel, MS.

A swarm of locals and travelers alike come to view their creations, taste their wares and ride bumping along between the buildings in the tractor-pulled train.

Mothers and fathers hold tiny kids by the hand who watch wide-eyed as the chainsaw artists create beautiful works of art. The children imagine their own hands creating and building as they watch familiar shape emerging from the raw wooden materials.

Their dream is soon realized as they step into the Children’s Arts and Crafts area to build a creation of their own from the very same materials that made their city great – raw wood and an imagination.

Surrounded by delicious smells and the bustle of the crowd, they taste the first fair-style foods of the season then make their way to the stage to listen to talented musicians perform a familiar song.

Even then, they’ve only had a taste of what the Loblolly Festival has to offer. This year, there is so much more and so much to be proud of in our little city.

Things to Do and See at the
2016 Loblolly Festival


1. FESTIVAL INFO Stop by the Gazebo at Pinehurst Park for any information you may require during the day’s event. The Laurel Main Street Trailer parked across the street at Bancorp South is the place to purchase your limited-edition 2016 Loblolly Festival, Eastman Gardiner Lumber Company, and Lindsey Wagon T-shirts!

2. FIRST TRINITY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH TOURS Come and enjoy “Laurel’s cathedral” and explore part of the history of Laurel and First-Trinity Presbyterian Church. Hear lovely organ music performed by First-Trinity’s Director of Music, Nathan Jones. Guided tours begin at the front steps at 10:30am and 1:30pm, and organ music begins in the sanctuary at 11:00am and 1:00pm. The church building will be open in between these times for self-guided tours as well.

3. LOBLOLLY STAGE Live music performances begin at 9:30AM at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Sawmill Road, near the courthouse. See the music lineup below.

4. CHICK FIL A RUN Beginning at 7:30 AM in the Sawmill Mark Parking Lot, the Chick-fil-A run will feature a 5K, 10K and 1 Mile Fun Run for families. Come out and race for a chance to win FREE Chick-fil-A for a year! Wear your best cow costume for a chance at other great prizes! For more information call 601.319.6064.

5. WOOD CARVING DEMO BY DAYTON SCOGGINS International World Cup Champion chainsaw artist, Dayton Scoggins, carves all day long just south of the flag pole beside Elegant Evenings.

6. BIRDS OF PREY The Birds of Prey exhibit, located in the lot at the corner of Oak & Front Streets, will feature 7 birds of prey including hawks, owls, a vulture and a falcon. The exciting presentation will give you a chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and learn about the roles they play in the animal kingdom. Watch for a stunning red-tail hawk and turkey vulture flying over the festival during the presentation!

7. THE KID ZONE offers fun jumps, slides, train rides, face painting, a craft area and more. On Yates & 5th Avenues next to City Hall, across from the Laurel-Jones County Library, on Central Avenue and at Oak & Front Streets.

8. THE CHILDREN’S ART & SCIENCE AREA Sponsored and created by Clairmont Designs, the Children’s Art Area is the place to be for kids of all ages. STEM Discoveries will be on hand to help children learn about the Loblolly tree with great hands-on activities! The art and science area will be located beside Clairmont Designs near the corner of Oak & Front Streets.

9. MASONITE ART COMPETITION Sponsored by Laurel Arts League, student artwork painted on Masonite door skins will be on display at Lee’s Coffee & Tea depicting this year’s theme, “Life in Your Home Town.”

10. SOUTHERN BEVERAGE CO. LOBLOLLY BEER GARDEN Stop by the beverage wagon in Pinehurst Park one block down from the Loblolly Stage for a cup your favorite domestic or craft beers. Don’t miss your chance to meet the folks from Downtown Laurel’s own Slowboat Brewing Company. Join us after the festival for the Slowboat After Party!

11. HERITAGE ARTS FESTIVAL The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art will hold its FREE 24th annual Heritage Arts Festival from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on the Museum’s front lawn in recognition of National Arts and Humanities Month. This year’s festival theme will be “Fall Fun!”

* THE LOBLOLLY LUMBERJACK The Loblolly Lumberjack is a definite crowd favorite as he towers over the festival goers adorned in plaid and carrying his trusty axe. Take a photo with the Lumberjack as he explores the festival throughout the day.

* DOWNTOWN MERCHANT SCARECROW HARVEST Downtown Laurel will be alive with colorful and creative life-size scarecrows on display at various retail, restaurant and business locations throughout Downtown! Enjoy this fun display and friendly competition among the downtown merchants.

Post a photo of your favorite Loblolly sights and activities on Instagram with the official #loblollylover hashtag for a chance to win a FREE 2016 Loblolly t-shirt!

Music Line-Up


Old Memphis Kings // 9:30 – 10:45am

Born under the tutelage of a blues man named Willie King, adapted to fit the time around it, The Old Memphis Kings is a blues/rock band based in Mississippi.

Phat Alley// 11:15 – 12:30pm


Pinebelt Pickers // 1:00 – 2:15pm

The band has a great mixture with unique instruments and harmonic voices playing their original music like no other.

Molly Thomas & the Rare Birds // 2:45 – 4:15pm

Molly’s music stirs up a plethora of emotions. Sometimes, tied to a sense of loss, but if you are able to step out of this disjointed world in which we live, you will find that there is also plenty of room for toasting, loving and laughing.

Johnny Sansone //  4:45-6:00pm

Sansone’s howling, rip-through-the-plaster voice and deep grooved harmonica riffs are the main attractions, but hard core fans will appreciate the wit and wisdom of his character songs.

Stop by the Beer Garden sponsored by Southern Beverage near the stage in Pinehurst Park as you enjoy great music by these talented local artists!

Festival Vendors

The 2015 Loblolly VendorsThe Arts & Crafts Vendors come in every shape, size and variety and are a huge part of the Loblolly Festival. From children’s clothes to christmas gifts and decor, handmade apparel to wooden toys, the arts and crafts vendors are the first stop for many festival goers.

The Food Vendors will be ready to fill your belly with delicious fair food, unique creations and festival favorites. The food trucks and booths will be dishing out everything from smoked turkey legs and blooming onions to funnel cakes, corndogs, kettle corn and sausage dogs. Don’t miss the Catfish on a Stick!

The Organizations booths will feature those who are dedicated to helping others and information on how you can join them. Community organizations from throughout Jones County will be on hand to help you better understand not only what they do and how they help, but how you can get involved!

The 2016 Festival Sponsors & Producers

Sponsored by:


Jones County Mississippi

Howard Industries

Southern Beverage

Trustmark Bank

South Central Regional Medical Center

Sanderson Farms

C-Spire Wireless

ENT Surgical Clinic

Bancorp South

Laurel Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Gilchrist, Sumrall, Yoder, Yoder & Leggett, PLLC

Laurel Ford Lincoln/Kia of Laurel

West Quality Foods

Holt & Associates

Southern Antiques

Produced by:

Studio 5 fifty

Own Your Hill

Black Horn Productions

The Chronicle

The Laurel Leader-Call

Dime Magazine

Slowboat Brewing Co.

City of Laurel

Clairmont & Co. 


The Impact

Thank you to our festival sponsors, producers and LMS partners for making this all possible!

Wondering “What is a Loblolly?” Get your answer here.

See y’all at the Loblolly Festival!