Loblolly Festival: Things to Know Before You Go

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — It’s time for Loblolly Festival!  This year’s festival is one you won’t soon forget and here are some tips to help you enjoy Loblolly Festival, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran.  The Loblolly Festival is one of Laurel’s biggest events with over 12,000 people attending annually, so lace up your walking shoes, it’s festival time!

Beat the Crowds:

The festival officially starts at 9am, so if you want to get first pick of the merchandise or avoid the crowds, come early.

Get a T-Shirt While You Can:

Stop by the Laurel Main Street trailer, which will be station on West Oak St., and purchase a commemorative Laurel Main Street 10 year anniversary t-shirt or a Loblolly Festival t-shirt.  Make this one of your first stops because these shirts will go fast!

Wear Your Walking Shoes:

Loblolly Festival covers almost all of the central business district of downtown Laurel and includes over 120 vendors, crafters, performers, and activities. You’re bound to see a lot of people you know and some you forgot you knew!

Check the map and entertainment schedule:

When you arrive be sure to pick up a map.  It will help you get the lay of the land, and if you’re a strategic shopper, this will definitely make it easier for you to find any specific vendors you came to see.

 

Bring cash:

Some vendors accept credit cards, but not all do.  There is an ATM located downtown at the Laurel Welcome Center inside the First National Bank building as well as BancorpSouth.

Be sure to check out the brick and mortar merchants too:

Most downtown retail stores are open during the festival and many offer sales, specials, and live music.

Check the weather:

Loblolly Festival is a rain or shine event so check the weather and dress accordingly.  The Laurel YWCO will be open and available to the community from 10am – 2pm during the Loblolly Festival.  Come in to cool off and enjoy your lunch in the tea room! 

Sip & Stroll:

The walkable downtown area comprises a social district, which allows downtown patrons to “sip and stroll” as long as their beverages are in a “to-go” cup.  Open container laws are still in effect.  Please drink responsibly.

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 4, 2019, in time for judging and the Loblolly Festival on Saturday, October 5, 2019.  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 1, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  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.

“The One” Awards

Once a year the Laurel Main Street organization honors members of our downtown community for their commitment to the Main Street cause and their dedication to our community with “The One” Awards.  The awards were named for a phrase that pops up again and again during brainstorming or event planning sessions:

“Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of THE ONEs who are doing it!” 

We celebrate the dreamers, the doers, and THE ONES whose desire to improve their community is evident in all their pursuits.Attendees enjoying dinner at Laurel Main Street's annual awards banquet.

LMS President, Lew Yoder, welcomes attendees to the annual awards banquet.

Our attendees enjoyed great food and fellowship at Studio5Fifty with those who share their affinity for downtown Laurel.  Awards were created by local calligrapher and artist Jade Yoder of Paper Studio and were presented by Laurel Main Street President, Lew Yoder.

Downtown Business of the Year

Wayne & Melissa Bryant, owners of The Loblolly Boutique & Crescent Line Toys were named Downtown Business of the Year.  They are THE ONES who have worked tirelessly to create an engaging and inviting atmosphere inside their store, and even on the sidewalk in front!  Their work in the downtown community is widespread and we appreciate their dedication to downtown Laurel and Laurel Main Street!  Whether they are rallying downtown merchants, creating the most magical scene in Trustmark Art Park for The Magic of Downtown at Christmas, the Bryants have shown that their love for downtown knows no bounds.

award recipients accepting their award

The children of Wayne & Melissa Bryant accepting the award for Downtown Business of the Year on their behalf.

THE ONE Award

THE ONE Award is presented each year to Laurel Main Street’s top volunteer.  This year, Carl & Mandy Buchanan received THE ONE Award.  The Buchanans are fixtures of the downtown scene and are always ready to lend a hand.  At Main Street events, you’ll often find Mandy helping out in the t-shirt trailer, but their real dedication shines in their artwork.  For years, attendees to the Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off have had the opportunity to purchase one of Carl’s “bottomless” chili bowls.  These one-of-a-kind bowls have somewhat of a cult following, with people from around the world asking if they can purchase one and have it shipped to them.  Carl and Mandy also create the awards for the Chili Cook Off and Crawfest — unique platters, which serve as a reminder of a wonderful day in downtown Laurel.  The Buchanans serve with a cheerful heart and are always on board to lend a hand or throw an extra bowl in the kiln.  Thank you for your service to Laurel Main Street!

award recipients accepting their award

Carl & Mandy Buchanan receive “The One” award for Laurel Main Street volunteers of the year.

 

 

 

All photos property of Robby Scruggs and Scruggs Photography.

Laurel Main Street Receives 2019 National Main Street Accreditation

Laurel, MS (April 30, 2019)  Laurel Main Street has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs to recognize their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach™

“We are proud to acknowledge this year’s 840 nationally accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to strengthen their communities,”  said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These programs deserve recognition for generating impressive economic returns, preserving community character, and celebrating local history. Main Street America Accredited communities are part of a powerful movement of changemakers, and their dedication to improving quality of life in the places they call home is inspiring.

In 2018 alone, Main Street America programs generated $4.93 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 5,310 net new businesses, generated 25,301 net new jobs, catalyzed the rehabilitation of 8,146 historic buildings, and clocked 2.2 million volunteer hours.

The performance of Laurel Main Street is annually evaluated by the Mississippi Main Street Association, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten national performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.

Since its inception in 2007, Laurel Main Street has seen over $40 million in private reinvestment in downtown.  In the past three years, Laurel Main Street has awarded nearly $50,000 in façade grants to downtown businesses and welcomed over 34 businesses to downtown Laurel.  The organization looks forward to even more activity in the coming year. 

###

ABOUT Laurel Main Street

Since 2007, the focus of Laurel Main Street is the preservation and economic growth of Laurel’s Central Business District, bounded at the north by 5th St., south by Carroll Gartin Boulevard, east by Front Street and west by Leontyne Price Boulevard.

Laurel Main Street is an organization dedicated to the revitalization of Historic Downtown Laurel, made possible by partnership with our members, the City of Laurel, public and private contributors and the Mississippi Main Street Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  LMS is one of 50 certified Main Street Communities in the State of Mississippi.

 

ABOUT MAIN STREET AMERICA

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $79.12 billion in new public and private investment, generated 640,017 net new jobs and 143,613 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 284,936 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Laurel Main Street 2018: A Snapshot of Success

For centuries, Main Streets have been the cultural, historic, economic, civic, and emotional hearts of our towns and cities. We’re proud to be part of the movement that brings these things back to life in Laurel!  The Main Street organization was founded upon the principle that sustainable, comprehensive transformation of a downtown or commercial district doesn’t happen overnight or with one “big fix.”  Laurel Main Street has been at work since 2007 to preserve our historic buildings while revitalizing our local economy.  However, the goal of our work goes much deeper than simply creating a beautiful downtown district with businesses and activities to enjoy… We want to provide a solid sense of ownership in the downtown and core commercial district.

Recruiting

Since its inception, Laurel Main Street has been recruiting business owners and private investors to the downtown area.  Because of those efforts, our downtown has seen a private re-investment of over $40 MILLION dollars. When you attend or are an exhibitor at Laurel Main Street events, such as Loblolly Festival or Touch a Truck, you’re directly contributing to the LMS Façade and Amenities Grant fund.  In the past 36 months, Laurel Main Street has awarded $54,556.94 in façade grants to downtown businesses.  The LMS Façade & Amenities grant was created to help downtown business owners refresh and update their buildings.  There have been 19 façade improvements in downtown Laurel in the past two years.  That’s almost one building a month!  Some of the buildings who received a facelift thanks to a LMS Façade & Amenities grant include The Boutique on Central, Mimmo’s, The Loft on Central, and the shops at Sawmill — Quarter Century, Studio R3, Goodness Gracious, Pause Espresso Cafe, and Bella Bella.

Fundraising

Laurel Main Street has raised over $50,000 to improve the downtown area.  The projects are too numerous to list, but here are a few you might have noticed: painted murals on the Laurel-Jones County Library and the Marcus Building, the addition of 15 trash receptacles, 2 bike racks, and 4 pet waste disposal stations, as well as the string lights above the streets.  Through partnerships with MDOT and The City of Laurel, Laurel Main Street was able to add way finding signage downtown to make it more tourist-friendly and walkable.  Thanks to many generous donations to Laurel Main Street, we have been able to clean up and repurpose Trustmark Park into Trustmark Art Park for children and families to enjoy.  We have also assisted in the transformation of the Oak Street Pocket Park into a lovely spot for eating lunch, taking an outdoor break, or just walking through to get downtown!  

Facts

In 2017, Laurel Main Street proposed a Social District Ordinance that would allow patrons to sip & stroll through the streets of downtown Laurel.  We appreciate the Mississippi legislature and The City of Laurel for this ordinance.  The adoption of the Social District Ordinance has increased shopping, dining, and the overall enjoyment of downtown.  We’re more than family fun and festivals. The Main Street movement is the leading voice for economic development and community revitalization of historic districts across the country.

New businesses in downtown Laurel: 34 businesses in 3 years

Apartments in downtown Laurel: 29          Vacancies: 0

Vacant buildings in 2011: 30          Vacant buildings today: 8

Awards and Accolades

Since 2009, Laurel Main Street has racked up 19 Mississippi Main Street Association Downtown Revitalization awards! Did you know that Laurel Main Street has been awarded the Best Adaptive Re-use Project by MMSA three times?  The rehabilitation and reuse of the First National Bank Building, Slowboat Brewing Co., and The Burton Building are shining examples of what the Main Street initiative is all about! Small-scale development and adaptive reuse go hand-in-hand. The creative and curated nature of small-scale developments allows seemingly “unusable” buildings to be repurposed into unique places with entirely new formats that bring unique focus to neighborhoods and add new value.

Laurel Main Street has also been recognized by the MMSA for outstanding capital campaigns, public improvement projects, business retention and recruitment, and overall community transformation, just to name a few!

Appreciation

We are always thankful for the gifts we receive through the generosity of our community.  Leadership Jones County and Future Leaders of Jones County participants have contributed to our downtown in so many meaningful ways!  Thank you for the picnic tables, garbage cans, Imagination Playground, and the beautiful mural at Central Creativity!

The Main Street movement grew out of a recognition that a community is only as strong as its core.  This approach has proven over and over again that a small number of committed people can make a big difference in a community.

As we look forward to the new year, we are filled with excitement over the things to come.  We want you to know that we hear you loud and clear: you want MORE live music, MORE restaurants, and MORE things to do downtown and it’s our goal to continue recruiting reputable business owners who can deliver what you want.  After all, Laurel Main Street succeeds when small business owners succeed.  The future belongs to downtowns!