Scarecrow Harvest

The Scarecrow Harvest is a time when our downtown Laurel community comes alive with colorful and creative life-size scarecrows. We invite businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, civic groups, families and individuals to design and display their own whimsical scarecrows.  Anyone is welcome to create a scarecrow and join the fun!

Design and display your scarecrow in front of your business, hiding behind a bush, leaning against a street light, washing a window or even climbing a tree. The event is absolutely free and only requires your creativity! We ask that all scarecrows be installed by Friday, October 6, 2017, in time for judging and the Loblolly Festival on Saturday, October 7, 2017.  Please make sure your scarecrow is tied down and secured so goblins and storms can’t take it away. Scarecrows will remain on view through the month of October and should be removed by Friday, November 3, 2017.

Judging for the top three scarecrow designs will be done on the Friday afternoon prior to the Loblolly Festival and winners announced during the Festival.  Rumor has it that our favorite potter has been busy crafting mugs for all participants!  We can’t wait to see what you come up with this season! 

This contest is hosted by Laurel Main Street, for questions or concerns, please contact Judi Holifield, info@laurelmainstreet.com or your block ambassador.

Sip and Stroll in Downtown Laurel

In a few short weeks crowds of festival-goers will descend upon downtown Laurel.  Whether you’re venturing out for Laurelpalooza or Loblolly Festival, you’ll definitely want to be in the know about Laurel’s Leisure and Recreation District.  Effective July 1st, the “to-go cup ordinance” allows dining establishments to offer a to-go cup for patrons who wish to finish their beverage outside of the restaurant or bar.

Here’s What You Need to Know Before You Go

  1. Patrons are required to go inside of a restaurant or bar to purchase a beverage.  Leaving the site drink in hand is fine — as long as you stay within the boundaries of the leisure district, which is considered the walkable business district in downtown Laurel.  Maps of the Downtown Leisure/Social District will be available at downtown businesses and restaurants. 
  2. To-go cups are issued at the discretion of individual establishments.  The owner, manager, or bartender has the right to refuse a to-go cup to any individual they believe may be in danger of being over-served.
  3. Only one (non-glass) container will be issued per person over the age of 21 — sorry, no double fisting! 
  4. Please finish your beverage before entering another establishment. 

In 2016, House Bill 1223 was signed into law, which authorized certain municipalities in the state to establish recreation and leisure districts.  Other cities that already have recreation and leisure districts include Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Ridgeland, Vicksburg, Natchez, Clinton and Cleveland.

The energy in downtown Laurel is already palpable.  Laurel Main Street looks forward to the continued economic growth in downtown and the rebirth of nightlife in The City Beautiful!

Come for the Festival; Stay for the Music

There are so many reason to look forward to fall in the south… a break from summer’s temperatures, football, pumpkin spice everything, and LOBLOLLY FESTIVAL!  This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, October 7th and will feature live music, craft demonstrations, vendors and food trucks from across the south.

Let Us Entertain You!

Our music lineup offers something for everyone!

From 9:00 -10:00 a.m., Pinebelt musician and artist, Thomas Jackson, will take the stage. At 10:20 a.m.Scott Chism & the Better Half will bring their traditional country style to the stage.  You’re sure to be entertained by their blend of traditional country and hillbilly bluegrass!  During the lunchtime hours (11:55-1:00 p.m.) you’ll enjoy the unique mix of originals plus covers styled by Galen Martin & the Crutches.  Be sure to stick around for the cutting edge sounds of award-winning bluesman, Lightnin Malcolm, beginning at 1:35 p.m.  This one-man-band has rocked juke joints across the south combining elements of Funk, Soul, Rock, Reggae, Hip Hop, West African World Beat, Gospel and Country.  Rounding out our performers this year is southern rock guitarist, George McConnell & The Nonchalants.  You might recognize McConnell from his time as lead guitarist in the bands Beanland, Kudzu Kings and Widespread Panic.  McConnell’s style blurs the lines between classic rock, jazz, soul, blues, and country, and creates a sound all his own.  With two decades of stage experience, you’re sure to be entertained by this Mississippi native!

 

Official 2017 Loblolly Festival Music Lineup

9:00 a.m. – Thomas Jackson

10:20 a.m. – Scott Chism & the Better Half

11:55 a.m. – Galen Martin & the Crutches

1:35 p.m. – Lightnin Malcolm

3:30 p.m. – George McConnell & The Nonchalants

 

Design with Data Workshop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Allison Washington | Director of Communications & Community Engagement | allison@volunteermississippi.org | (601) 432-6228

Volunteer Mississippi and the Center for Population Studies Roll Out Design with Data Workshop Series to Support Laurel Area Organizations Serving Rural Mississippi.

Design with Date Workshop Series will help organizations submit high quality applications for grants funding evidence-based or evidence-informed interventions.

LAUREL, Miss. — Volunteer Mississippi, in partnership with the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi, will host a 2-day Design with Data workshop on August 17th-18th from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Thursday and 9:00 am – 1:00 pm Friday at the YWCO, located at 480 W. Oak Street, in Laurel.

This NO COST workshop is targeted toward organizations that are interested in applying for AmeriCorps State grants.  During the workshop, Volunteer Mississippi and the Center for Population Studies staff members will provide organizations with guidance, tools, and instruction on creating logic, models, and share information on accessing and assessing research and data to support program design.  Organizations that serve rural areas are encouraged to register.

“Organizations that serve rural areas in our state provide critical services for many Mississippians, which is why we want to ensure those organizations are equipped with the tools necessary to successfully apply for competitive grants,” said Caitlin Brooking, director of program development for Volunteer Mississippi.  “The goal of this workshop is to produce stronger applicants in the grant process, so organizations can secure funding for key projects and continue doing great work in rural communities.”

Design with Data workshop attendees will learn how to design program interventions, identify and select meaurable program outcomes, create a logic model, use academic research and data to support program proposals, interpret research results, and incorporate research as evidence to support program proposals.

In addition to this workshop, Volunteer Mississippi and the Center for Population Studies will be hosting Design with Data workshops in Natchez on September 7th-8th, and Philadelphia on September 21st-22nd.  To register for our Design with Data workshops, click here or contact Caitlin Brooking at 769.257.4827 or cbrooking@ihl.state.ms.us.  To learn more about Volunteer Mississippi, visit www.volunteermississippi.org or call (888) 353-1793.

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Start Small — Do Big: The Power of Baby Steps

The Power of Baby Steps

The Laurel Mercantile has a fantastic print and now a mug with the uplifting saying, “We have the POWER to do this.”  This phrase was coined by the director of the HGTV series, Home Town, during their first summer of filming in sweltering South Mississippi.  However, this phrase can be applied to anything.  We like to apply this winning saying to our efforts as a Main Street America Accredited organization.  

What started as a small, grass-roots movement to bring back Laurel’s downtown to its former glory has become a booming trend!  It didn’t happen overnight or even over a year, but with a series of small, incremental improvements, these efforts provided momentum for long-term economic transformation and improved quality of life in our community.  In the world of small towns and Main Street organizations this is referred to as “incrementalism.” Incrementalism is not flashy.  It’s several small changes that take place over a period of time… like a domino chain reaction in slow motion. 

Incremental Work

For decades, the community and economic development field was hooked on what Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center calls the “silver-bullet solution.” Shrinking budgets sent city leaders on a search for the “one big thing” that would transform their local economy, whether it was a big new commercial development, a pedestrian mall, or a convention center on the outskirts of town.  Those of you who lived in Laurel through Urban Renewal will definitely remember the development of all these things.  However, through years of research, we have learned that what our town has is much more important than what it’s missing.  By focusing on what sets our community apart from others, Laurel Main Street, together with the City of Laurel and our partners, has been able to restore a thriving city center in downtown.

One of the special things about being part of Main Street America is that we aren’t doing this incremental work alone. We rely on a national network of partners and supporters.  We are incredibly thankful for our city leaders for creating the environment for success by adding wayfinding signage,  improving our streets, adding lighting, bike paths, ad valorem tax credits and continuing to work toward improving city services that businesses rely on.

Some would say that a town’s exports are the measure of its success, but at Laurel Main Street we believe it’s the people, not the products that are the heart of our town’s success story. These small steps and small victories have provided Laurel residents with an optimism about the future, a true sense of community pride, and a productive spirit of unity.  We consider that a true success story.