Meet the Judges for the 2020 Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off

The annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off will take place on Central Avenue in beautiful downtown Laurel on Saturday, February 8, 2020. Teams from across the state will compete to win the chili trophy. The job of judging all that deliciousness can’t be easy, but we’ve rounded up a team of tasters who are up to the task!

Meet the Judges

Joe BerlinJoe Berlin is a 23 year veteran of law enforcement. Before being elected as Sheriff of Jones County, Berlin was a Sergeant in the Laurel Police Department. Sheriff Berlin is married and has two daughters. He loves fishing, spending time with his family, and serving the citizens of Laurel and Jones county.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Bowman is the WDAM 7 Sunrise morning anchor. The Texas native is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. During her years as a Golden Eagle she honed her skills interning in the newsroom at ABC’s World News Tonight in New York.

She started her reporting career on the Mississippi Gulf Coast before moving to Jackson, and eventually joining WDAM as an anchor and reporter.

She is an Associated Press award-winning reporter and has covered hurricanes, oil spills, state corruption trials, high profile homicide investigations and other extraordinary feature stories.

 

Akeem Davis is a former American football safety that played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Memphis, and signed with the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Davis has also been a member of the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars.

He is currently the cornerbacks coach for the University of Southern Mississippi. Davis is married to his high school Sweetheart, Sierra Sky Davis and they are parents to daughter Carsyn, and son, Corinthian Akeem Davis II.

Davis is also the founder of the AD47 Football Leadership Academy. The AD47 Football Leadership Academy is a free, one-day, football skills camp, dedicated to promoting leadership, citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. AD47 is sanctioned and insured by the NFL Foundation and run in partnership with USA Football through the FUNdamentals program. The inaugural AD47 was held in Laurel, MS in June 2015, and featured 53 school children, ages 8–12 from across the Laurel area.

Angela Tarrant is the Executive Producer and Showrunner for HGTV’s Home Town, set in beautiful Laurel, MS.  She has been working on the show since helping produce the pilot episode in 2015.

Angela has directed and produced several pilots and sizzle reels for HGTV, including The HousleysHome Stretch, Make Me Rich and Rough Housing.

Before starting a career in home renovation television, Angela spent 15 years working on national news programs in New York and Washington, DC. They include On the Record with Greta Van Susteren at Fox News, The Abrams Report and Scarborough Country on MSNBC and Burden of Proof and American Morning on CNN.

Angela was born in Marietta, Georgia and received her B.A. in journalism and political science from DePauw University. 

 

Originally from Meridian, MS, Andy Webb is an On-Air Radio Personality who’s entertained & informed listeners from Mississippi to South Carolina (and back again) for 25 years. Andy won the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters’ “Radio Personality of the Year” award four out of five years (2006-2010), and has been featured on numerous formats, including Country, Classic Rock, Adult Contemporary, Hot AC, Southern Gospel, and even Urban AC. You can now hear him weekday mornings from 6am-10am on B95’s “Breakfast Club.” Andy currently resides in Hattiesburg with his wife, Emma, and his daughter, Isabel.

 

 

Thank you to our incredible Sponsors and Producers!

Events like the Chili Cook Off just wouldn’t be possible without the support and backing of local businesses. These sponsorships help pay for the prizes, supplies and more! Their donations also help fund the Laurel Main Street Façade & Amenities grant and are directly responsible for the improvements you see in downtown Laurel.

Our Signature Sponsor

The Chili Cook Off’s signature sponsor is Magnolia State Bank. We are so thankful for the financial support and helping hands they provide every year to make this event a successful one.

Hot Sponsors

The City of Laurel

Jones County Chamber of Commerce

Jones County

Sanderson Farms

Spicy Sponsors

Carl & Mandy BuchananCommunity BankMississippi PowerB Clean LLC, Mike Axton and Southern Beverage Company

Our Producers

Event producers provide in-kind support of the event by providing products, services or advertising to make the event a reality. Thank you to WBBN B95 Country, Supertalk Radio, WDAM, and Studio5Fifty for helping to promote and organize the event.

It’s Time for the 9th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

On Saturday, February 8, 2020, Downtown Laurel will once again welcome hungry customers and competition teams with their top secret chili recipes. The annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off is one of Laurel Main Street’s most popular events each year. 

Early in the morning, teams will begin setting up and decorating their booths along Central Avenue.  All of the teams will prepare their recipes from scratch as attendees look on. The event officially begins at NOON. 

For just $10, you can enjoy an “all-you-can-eat” bowl.  For $25, enjoy a “bottomless” Carl Buchanan keepsake pottery bowl.  This year, skip the line and purchase your tickets in advance! Visit www.eventbrite.com to get your tickets before the big day. 

Our expert panel of judges will taste each entry and decide who wins the $1,000 prize in each category. We’ll reveal our taste masters soon!

Think you’ve got what it takes for total chili domination? Click here to enter your team!

Thank you to our incredible Sponsors and Producers!

Events like the Chili Cook Off just wouldn’t be possible without the support and backing of local businesses. These sponsorships help pay for the prizes, supplies and more! Their donations also help fund the Laurel Main Street Facade & Amenities grant and are directly responsible for the improvements you see in Downtown Laurel.

Join us February 8, 2020 in Downtown Laurel for the 9th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

Tagged chili cook offcommunitydowntowneventi live in laurelLaurelLaurel Main Streetlaurel ms

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

The 1920s was a decade of prosperity and dissipation, and of jazz bands, bootleggers, raccoon coats, bathtub gin, flappers, flagpole sitters, and marathon dancers, and in a few short weeks, the streets of downtown Laurel will be filled with revelers welcoming the “Roaring 20s” back to Laurel.

In the 1920s, Laurel was a city on the move. The Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Company was booming and Laurel was known as the Yellow Pine Capital of the World. The sawmills were shipping out one million board feet of lumber daily on rail car. People were moving to town for jobs at the newly formed Masonite Corporation and visitors and residents alike enjoyed going to the picture show at the newly constructed Arabian Theatre.

The inaugural Downtown Countdown is a free event held in the heart of Downtown Laurel. Beer and Champagne will be served, as well as food from food trucks. Some of your favorite downtown restaurants will also be open during the festivities: Lee’s Coffee & Tea, Slow Boat Brewing Co., and The Loft on Central.

VIP Area

The VIP tent will be in front of Mimmo’s Ristorante Pizzeria and will be open from 6:00 p.m. until the end of the event. Guests will enjoy exclusive live entertainment, seating, firework show viewing, refreshments by The Gables, a fully stocked cash bar, casino games, a cigar bar by Guild & Gentry, private restrooms, and premium parking. Our theme for the Downtown Countdown VIP area is “Roaring into the 20s,” so get creative and dress to impress! Click here to purchase VIP tickets for $100 each. Please note, the VIP area is for those 21 and up only.

On the Main Stage

Live entertainment is brought to you by our platinum sponsor, Howard Industries. Red & the Revelers is a collection of musicians from Mobile, AL and the Gulf Coast, and they’re sure to delight with their mixture of Americana and Deep South Soul. Emerald Empire from Birmingham, Alabama will follow with their high energy performances of the songs you know and love.

Be sure to stay until midnight when we lower our custom made 70 foot Pinecone and for a spectacular fireworks display! This dazzling display would not be possible without the creative team at Headrick Signs & Graphics and the generous sponsorship of Bancorp South.

For the Kids

The children’s area will be located on the 400 block of N. Magnolia Street and will feature music, games, activities, and face painting. At 8:00 p.m. there will be a kids countdown by Ben and Erin Napier of HGTV Home Town, a balloon drop, and a mini firework show. The appreciate the generous sponsorship of Shug’s Cookie Dough and Candy Bar, Crescent Line Toys and The Loblolly Boutique for the children’s activities.

Event Schedule

6:00 p.m.

Food Truck and Beer Service begins on Oak Street

Kids Area activities begin on the 400 block of North Magnolia Street

8:00 p.m.

Kids balloon drop and firework show

Red & the Revelers begin on the Main Stage

9:00 p.m.

Emerald Empire on the Main Stage

11:30-11:55 p.m.

Champagne Service

12:00 a.m.

Pinecone Drop

Firework Show

Midnight Performance

#ShopSmall with Us on Small Business Saturday – November 30th

 The #ShopSmall Movement is Coming to The City Beautiful!

For decades we’ve rushed off to the big chain stores on Black Friday to crowd the aisles in search of that one great deal, or this year’s must-have Christmas toy.

Sometimes, in the excitement of it all, we forget that some of our most enjoyable shopping experiences were found at a local shop, far from the hustle and bustle of the crowded department stores.

Small business owners pour their hearts into every detail of their business.  They strive to create an enjoyable and unforgettable shopping experience for their guests.  Now it’s time to celebrate these entrepreneurs who put so much love into every detail of their business and the experiences they provide for their customers.  

On November 30th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we will celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Be a Part of the #ShopSmall Movement

On November 30th businesses all over Downtown Laurel will not only open their doors, but will welcome shoppers with special events, giveaways, promotions and more! 

Business owners, As a Laurel Main Street member your business can join the #shopsmall movement and receive the attention of our nationwide audience as well as customized promotional tools and tips. You don’t have to be a Main Street member to participate, but we’d love to have you as a part of our #shopsmall team.

Shoppers, do you believe in supporting small businesses?  The #shopsmall movement is a great way for you to support local entrepreneurs while enjoying a unique shopping experience. The effect of an event like Small Business Saturday has a direct impact on the goals and dreams of local folks just like you. When you support Laurel’s small business owners, you’re telling them that you appreciate the work they are doing to further our city’s growth, and that you believe in them. So invite friends to shop with you.  Share your shopping experiences on social media using the hashtag #shopsmallinLaurel.  Let small business owners know you value their efforts.     

Why #ShopSmall?

The impact of an event like Small Business Saturday can’t be limited to a tally of a single day’s sales, or a list of great deals. The value of an event like this represents something much bigger — an appreciation and support of small business owners, and the impact on the local economy.

Small businesses help communities thrive.  There are 254,598 small businesses operating in Mississippi.  They make up 99.3% of all businesses in our state.  Small businesses in Mississippi created 6,652 new jobs in 2018 alone.  That means that almost half of all employees in the state of Mississippi work for a small business.  Small businesses help ensure local economies stay strong and vibrant.  When small businesses succeed, we all do.

Consider this: When you spend $100 at a locally-owned small business, $68 stays in the local economy. Compare that to the same $100 spent at a chain store where only $43 remains locally. With the average American shopper likely to spend over $684 on holiday gifts this year, shopping at independent businesses in your hometown has the potential to make a major impact on the health of the local economy.

As the official Neighborhood Champion for Laurel’s Small Business Saturday, Laurel Main Street has worked to bring together an incredible group of local retailers who are ready to welcome you during the November 30th event!

So join us on Small Business Saturday to get great deals, find some incredible, unique local gifts, and enjoy a fun shopping experience, but, most importantly – to support the folks who are making a difference in our city!

Small Business Saturday is a national initiative aimed at helping local businesses compete during the critical holiday shopping season and aims to drive shoppers to local small merchants the Saturday following Thanksgiving.  More than 100 million Americans shopped small on Small Business Saturday last year.  Join the movement and shop local on November 30th this year!

#ShopSmall #ShopLocal #ShopLaurel

Tagged christmasdowntownentrepreneureventlaurel msshop localshop smallshoppingsmall business saturday

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.