Thank You for a Fantastic Chili Cook Off!

Cloudy skies and scattered showers didn’t keep the crowds away from the 7th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off.  It took a village of people to make this event a success and we couldn’t have done it without them!

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle!

This year’s teams brought their A-game to the 7th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!  Here’s a recap of the winners:

People’s Choice
Knights of Columbus ($200 cash prize and Carl Buchanan pottery)
2018 Peoples Choice
Spirit/Tent Decoration
Laurel Country Club ($200 cash prize and Carl Buchanan pottery)2018 Decoration
Homestyle Category:
3rd – Perfect Temp Storage
2nd – Southern Spice/Ryan Scarborough
Winner – Southern Hospitality ($1,000 cash prize and chili pot trophy)2018 Homestyle Winner
Traditional Category: 
3rd – Peddler’s Junktion
2nd – Phillip’s Drive In
Winner – Crossroads Grilling ($1,000 cash prize and chili pepper trophy)2018 Traditional Winner

Thank You to…

Special thanks to our event chair, Robby Scruggs, for his work in making this event such a success each year.  Robby, and his wife, Angie, open studio5fifty for Laurel Main Street many times each year.  Their staff is always courteous and helpful and we simply can’t thank them enough!

We also owe a huge thanks to the following:

Laurel Main Street board members – for the countless hours you put into making each endeavor we undertake a successful one.

Chili Cook Off Judges – for selflessly giving of your time and taste buds in the name of chili.

Laurel Fire Department & Laurel Police Department – for keeping our volunteers and attendees safe, for being on call, and for going above and beyond your duties.

The City of Laurel Parks and Recreation Department – for your assistance in preparing the downtown area for the influx of visitors.

Carl and Mandy Buchanan – for the beautiful pottery that we awarded and for the “bottomless” bowls that we look forward adding to our collection each year.

Jim Thornhill – DJ extraordinaire – thank you for keeping the tunes going and making the atmosphere downtown bright and sunny, even during torrential downpours!

Diamond Productions – you guys are top notch!  The video screen and live footage during the chili cook off elevated this event beyond our expectations and we can’t wait to work with you again!

Community Volunteers – for the hours of service you provide selling tickets and t-shirts and all you do to make Laurel Main Street events run smoothly.

Of course, this event wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Magnolia State Bank.  Not only do they sponsor this event each year, but the bank staff also volunteers countless hours in preparation for the event and on the day of the event as well.  This year, Magnolia State Bank opened their Magnolia Room to host an indoor kids’ zone with educational and creative activities from Magnolia Alley Artist Co-op, Central Creativity, and HAND+made.  We are so grateful for the partnership of Magnolia State Bank!

It’s Time for the 7th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, Downtown Laurel will once again welcome over 3,000 hungry customers and 27 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. 

At 6:00 a.m. the teams will begin setting up and decorating their booths along Central Avenue.  Teams are given two hours to set up and decorate before the real work begins.  Come early to watch the teams chop and dice their way to victory! All of the teams will prepare their recipes from scratch as attendees look on, mouths watering with anticipation. The event officially begins at 10:00 a.m. 

For just $10, you can enjoy an “all-you-can-eat” bowl.  For $25, enjoy a “bottomless” Carl Buchanan keepsake pottery bowl.  Be sure to eat breakfast before you come though; no chili can be served until the judging begins at 11:00 a.m.

Our expert panel of judges will taste each entry and decide who wins the $1,000 prize in each category.  Who are these experts you ask?

Meet the Judges

Kerri Hinton

Kerri Hinton enjoys catering weddings throughout the south with Special Events Catering Service.  Her favorite way to show love to friends and family is with a gift of home cooked food.  Kerri is married to James Hinton and has two daughters, Valerie and Jamie.  She is expecting her first grandson in April!  Kerri is a member of First Baptist Church of Laurel where she volunteers with the Hospitality Committee and belongs to The Joy Sunday School Class.  She is a graduate of Leakesville High School, JCJC and Mississippi College of Beauty Culture, and is currently a hairdresser at The Nail and Hair Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

Kris Mangum has been employed with Magnolia State Bank since 2009, and served as the President at the Petal location until 2016 when he was named CEO. Kris, a member of the Magnolia State Bank Board of Directors, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1996 with a BS in Public Administration. At Ole Miss he received All Southeastern Conference and All American honors in the sport of Football. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 1997, where he had a successful 10 year career.

 

 

 

 

 


Akeem Davis is a Defensive Back in the NFL.  Akeem was born and raised in Laurel, MS.  He lead Laurel High School to the state title his senior season at QB.  The following year, he attended JCJC before transferring to University of Memphis.  Akee, was the star of the hit NFL Network show, Undrafted.  In 2014, he signed with the Washington Redskins, and played his rookie season in Washington, DC.  Akeem has also played for the Bucs, Saints, Seahawks, Colts, Chiefs, and Jaguars.  He is also the founder of the AD47 Football Leadership Academy, a free, one-day, football skills camp dedicated to promoting leadership, citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.

Akeem and his wife, Sierra, are the proud parents to a daughter, Carsyn, and a son, CJ.

 

 

 

Mimmo Rendina is originally from Salerno, Italy.   He is the chef and owner of Mimmo’s Ristorante Pizzeria with his wife, Jeannie.  Mimmo attended the Culinary School of Florence before moving to the U.S.  He has worked as chef at Tuscany Italian Bistro in Destin, FL and Mimmo’s Pizza in Destin before opening Mimmo’s Ristorante Pizzeria in Quitman.  He opened his Laurel restaurant in November 2017.  Mimmo and his wife, Jeannie, are parents to Elijah and Grayson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Activities

Each year, at the end of the event, we raffle a 10 gallon cast iron Bayou Classic Jambalaya pot and tripod stand — a $325 value! Tickets for the raffle are $10 for 1 or $20 for 3 and can be purchased from any LMS member or at the event.

Kids Activities

Central Creativity, HAND+made, and Magnolia Alley Artist Co-op will be in the Magnolia Room at Magnolia State Bank from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. providing fun and education activities for kids of all ages!

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.

Our Signature Sponsor

Magnolia State Bank

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 Buchanan, Community Bank, Mississippi Power, B 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, iHeart Radio and SL100, WDAM, and Studio5Fifty for helping to organize the event and to Central Creativity, HAND+made, and Magnolia Alley Artist Co-op for providing the children’s activities.

Join us February 10, 2018 in Downtown Laurel for the 7th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

Then Comes the Thaw

January is a cruel month.  It’s cold, credit card statements from Christmas are in, and everyone seems to have the flu.  This is, by far, the strangest winter I’ve experienced in my lifetime of living in Mississippi.  I can’t recall the last time it was so cold for so long, yet this week brought about temperatures that would bring daffodils into premature bloom.  If you’re over the cold weather or sick of being cooped up with sick people, you’re in luck because downtown Laurel has something for everyone.  You’ve recovered from your Christmas coma and your holiday hangover… now it’s time to return to the land of the living.

If you want to get creative, downtown Laurel is DEFINITELY the place for you!  One of our newest merchants, Magnolia Alley Artists’ Co-op, has a calendar jam-packed with chances to let loose.  Your kids will love the “Drop & Dine” events on select Friday nights while you enjoy date night at one of our downtown restaurants.  No kids?  No problem!  Magnolia Alley also hosts couples’ painting nights, photography, quilting, and doll classes!  Give them a call at (601) 342-5188 and plan your next night out downtown!

The folks at HAND+made always have something going on too.  From their DIY open studio to Mommy and Me and calligraphy classes, you’ll definitely find something to pique your interest and stretch your creative boundaries.  If you’re looking for something a little more laid back, why not try Lott Furniture’s “Wine & Design” workshops every second Tuesday of each month?  I’m not sure if they intentionally planned it on Mary Poppins’s day off, but it’s practically perfect in every way if you ask me. 😉 Stop by after work, enjoy a beverage, live music, and design tips to make your home your haven.

If you still appreciate the creative and entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in downtown Laurel, but prefer to be the subject rather than the artist, you’ll want to reserve your appointment for a one-of-a-kind family heirloom as Guild & Gentry hosts portrait artist Michael Foster.  He will be at the store on February 17th doing ambrotypes, so click here to reserve your appointment!

Most of our downtown retailers have just wrapped up their buying trips and soon the shelves of their stores will be brimming with more goodies than your house can possibly hold.  Keep an eye out for the overloaded delivery trucks making their way down the brick streets of downtown!

The YWCO will be the new home to the monthly downtown book club, which meets on the first Tuesday of each month from 6-7PM.  Follow Cottage Books on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the current book selection and for updates on meeting times and new arrivals in the store. The YWCO also hosts numerous community events throughout the year, many of which are free, so be sure to check them out on Facebook to see what’s happening!

Slowboat Brewing Company hosts trivia and live music on alternating Friday nights and live music every Saturday night of the month starting at 7PM.  Check out their Facebook page to see which of your favorite groups are coming to town or maybe even discover a new favorite at Laurel’s liveliest local music scene and Jones County’s only locally owned brewery!

Lee’s Coffee & Tea provides more than a good cup of coffee and the best pimento cheese you’ll ever eat.  They also have some pretty cool events lined up for the month of February!  Enjoy Open Mic Night on the first Friday of the month, Board Game Night on the second Friday, and Vinyl Night on the third Friday.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off happening downtown on February 10th.  We’ll have lots of cold beer, lots of hot chili, and plenty of fun too!

If you’re like me and spend 90% of your waking hours behind a computer screen, all of these opportunities for actual human interaction might be a little intimidating, but I PROMISE YOU, you’ll thank me later.  If not, your next cup of coffee’s on me.  Get downtown y’all!

A Banner Year: 2017 Year End Review

2017 was certainly one for the record books!  The Main Street America program saw a ten-year high in community reinvestment. “Despite some media reports about the demise of Main Streets, many local business districts are thriving as a result of sound economic planning and community engagement,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center, which supports the Main Street America communities.

Since 1980, Main Street America communities have reinvested $70.255 billion, created 132,092 new businesses, created 584,422 jobs and rehabilitated 268,053 buildings.

Local Growth

In its 10th year, Laurel Main Street saw record growth as well. More and more people are choosing to live, work and shop in places with a distinct sense of place and strong quality of life.  Over $8.5 million of private money has been invested in the restoration of 14 buildings, 12 business expansions and 22 facade improvements in Downtown Laurel since 2007, resulting in multiple awards from the Mississippi Main Street Association.

The LMS Façade & Amenities grant was created to help downtown business owners refresh and update their downtown buildings. A fully funded grant will reimburse up to one-third of the funds invested in the project by the applicant.  This year, we were able to award over $20,000 in facade grants to downtown business owners.

We are incredibly thankful for the individuals, families, and businesses that have chosen to become a part of the revitalization of Downtown Laurel. Their commitment to growth and positive change is the reason LMS exists, and we could not be more grateful for the 30 new members and 5 new partners who have joined the movement to create a better tomorrow here in Mississippi’s Downtown.

Starting a new business takes a lot of hard work.  We are constantly amazed at the entrepreneurial spirit that lives among us.  It was a busy year, and we were thrilled to welcome 16 new businesses to the downtown community.

The Highlights

Laurel Main Street kicks off each new year with the annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off.  With 28 enthusiastic teams competing and almost 3,000 chili-loving attendees coming out to taste their wares, the 6th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off was our best cook off event yet!

In April, kids of all ages enjoyed our annual Touch a Truck event.  Children and parents enjoyed this unique opportunity to explore vehicles of all types – public service, emergency, utility, construction, transportation, delivery and “fun & flashy” trucks – in one place!

As the temperatures climbed and the summer sun shined fresh produce and homemade goods filled “The Brick Yard” in downtown.  Shoppers found the best of homemade, handcrafted, and homegrown products each Thursday along with an assortment of food trucks.  We are so appreciative of the generous sponsorship from Central Sunbelt Federal Credit Union!  After the market, downtown welcomed droves of movie-goers for Downtown Movie Night, a favorite summertime family tradition, produced by Agape Church.

A little hurricane in the forecast couldn’t keep the scarecrows away!  The 2017 Scarecrow Harvest saw doubled participation and an extra helping of excitement leading up to Loblolly Festival!  Downtown Laurel hosted vendors from across the south, artists, crafters and craftsmen plus musicians and food trucks.  Everyone in attendance enjoyed shopping, festival food, and photos with our lovable Loblolly Lumberjack!

In the fall, activities in Laurel abound as do opportunities to shop local.  We were proud to once again serve as the neighborhood champion for Small Business Saturday, and were thrilled to hear from the downtown retailers who experienced record-breaking sales!

Of course, December Downtown is always a magical time; starting with the lighting of the Christmas tree in Pinehurst Park to the annual Sertoma of Laurel Christmas Parade and Kiwanis Pancake Day.  Laurel Little Theatre‘s showing of The Polar Express movie, the YWCA’s  Victorian Christmas Tea and the Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas presentation, added even more family friendly activities .  The merchants of Downtown Laurel celebrated the Christmas season with an evening of shopping and family fun which included cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, crafts at HAND+made, a live nativity in Makers Alley, and trolley rides throughout downtown!

We were pleased to welcome some special guests to Laurel this year, including the film crew from Blue Magnolia Films which produced a video series celebrating Mississippi’s Bicenntenial.  We were thrilled to host The Market Beautiful not once, but TWICE this year! Historic Downtown Laurel also became an official geo-caching sight, and one of Downtown Laurel’s oldest businesses, Lott Furniture Co.,  celebrated their 100th anniversary.

Whew!  What a year!

Looking Forward

We’re bursting with excitement over the promise of 2018.  You can expect more businesses to open, more events, and more efforts to beautify and restore Historic Downtown Laurel!

‘Tis the Season to Shop Local in Laurel!

For as long as I, or anyone else can remember, the merchants of Downtown Laurel have held their Christmas Open House on the first Sunday of November.  This serves as the perfect preview for a much newer movement, Small Business Saturday.  With more than 20 places to eat, shop, and browse in the walkable downtown area, this year’s Christmas Open House is sure to provide something for everyone on your shopping list!  Bring your friends and family and support our local businesses this holiday season!

Christmas Open House Details

Most downtown merchants and retailers will be open from 12-5 p.m. on Sunday, November 5th for the Annual Christmas Open House.  However, it is up to each individual retailer to set their own hours for this event, so if there’s a shop you don’t want to miss, be sure to check with them for their hours.

Drop & Shop: Child-free Shopping Event

Does Santa need to do a little child-free shopping?  One of Downtown Laurel’s newest additions, Central Creativity, is hosting a “Drop & Shop” event so patrons can shop without their eavesdropping elves.  Central Creativity will be open from 12-5 p.m. and will have fun and educational activities for children ages 4-12.  Kids will love exploring virtual reality worlds, open Minecraft lab, art projects, hands-on science experiments, and more!  The cost for Drop & Shop is $10 per child per hour.  For more information, contact Central Creativity at (601) 580-8773.

The Importance of Shopping Local

We’ve heard it stated time and again that local businesses are the backbone of a community, and indeed, they are.  Small businesses, locally owned and operated, are an integral part of our community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, “Independent, local businesses employ an array of supporting services by “buying locally” themselves. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and contractors for construction. Local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, advertising agencies help run it. Local retailers and distributors also carry a higher percentage of locally-produced goods than chains, meaning more jobs for local producers.” Sounds a lot like Laurel, right?

Research reports show that for every dollar spent at a local business, 3.5 dollars are recirculated into the local economy, which creates more local jobs. Money spent at a chain retailer often doesn’t leave that chain retailer, as they outsource most of their products and services.

When you shop locally, you get to know the people behind the business and you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have. Our local businesses give our community its flavor. The combined presence of our town’s many local businesses makes it different from every other city in the world. By supporting those businesses instead of chains, you help preserve the uniqueness our community.  Local businesses define our sense of place, and their survival depends on our patronage.  So this holiday season, we urge you to SHOP LOCAL in LAUREL.