Touch a Truck – Sponsors & Exhibitors Wanted!

Touch a Truck provides a unique opportunity for children to explore vehicles of all types – public service, emergency, utility, construction, transportation, delivery and “fun & flashy” trucks – all in one place.  Personnel will tell about the equipment and allow “hands on” exploration.

Be a Touch A Truck Exhibitor!

Show off your trucks or equipment and engage your business in the community!  Be a Touch a Truck exhibitor! We have had four amazing years of Touch a Truck and we can’t wait or this loud, energetic horsepower-filled event. It’s a time to showcase vehicles that are tough and tactical, fun and flashy, and represent our heroes and helpers. This event is a wonderful way to build community and to show kids the people and machines that work hard.  We need trucks, ATV’s, etc. (branded for fun or sport), cars, boats, emergency vehicles and rigs of every shape and size. That sense of wonder and respect that lights up a child’s face when they see something incredible will make your day and make you proud of the work you do, too.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: MARCH 8, 2019

Exhibitor Info At-a-Glance

  • FREE to exhibit
  • $50 refundable deposit
  • Vehicle attendants will have lunch and facilities provided at the event
  • We strongly encourage promotional materials appropriate for children, such as banners, stickers and giveaways.
  • If applicable, tickets to the event (for company employees, guests, etc.) will be provided before the event.
  • The Touch a Truck® Exhibitor Form, Payment, Letter of Agreement and Certificate of Liability Insurance must be received prior to the event in order to participate.

Types of Vehicles Needed

  • Unique/Rare/Novelty (Limos, monster trucks, antique trucks)
  • Construction (Cement & dump trucks, cement rollers, etc)
  • Emergency (Ambulances, sheriff & police vehicles, fire trucks & equipment, etc)
  • Farm Equipment (Big tractors, plows, etc)
  • Commercial (Postal, delivery, 18-wheelers, etc)
  • Military (All types)
  • Recreational (4-wheelers, motorcycles, etc)

 

 

 

 

Be a Touch A Truck Sponsor!

If you don’t have a vehicle that your company can show off but you want to contribute to the success of this great event, you can join the fun as an event sponsor! This Laurel Main Street event is promoted to families in the Pine Belt area. With a large turnout expected, the event promises to provide great exposure for your business. Your support will help us continue to show our love for Laurel’s downtown. Sponsorships allow us to produce high quality events and the ability to promote these events to a wide audience. One of the tools Laurel Main Street uses to move us towards our vision of a vibrant and sustainable Downtown Laurel is beautification. In years past, we have made Laurel more welcoming with direction signage, murals, paint, plants and lighting. Sponsors and exhibitors will not only contribute to a fun and educational event, but will also help to support the projects and initiatives of Laurel Main Street.

Sponsors may bring banners, signage, decorations and giveaways to promote their business!

 

Thank You for a Record-Setting Chili Cook Off!

Brutal wind in the early morning hours didn’t keep the crowds away from the 8th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off.  In fact, this year’s chili cook off set a new record!  We had a record number of teams to enter this year, which brought record-breaking crowds downtown!  The clouds and wind that plagued our teams during setup gave way to a beautiful blue-skied day and gave folks the perfect reason to get out of the house and get downtown! 

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle!

This year’s teams brought their A-game to the 8th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!  Here’s a recap of the winners:

People’s Choice

Exchange Club

Pictured: Team Free Chili Team Captain: Andrew Cardwell. Jim Rasberry. Dustin Cooke. Peter Biglane. Nick Roll.

$200 cash prize and Carl Buchanan pottery

Spirit/Tent Decoration

Ellis & Walters Dental Clinic a.k.a. the “Molar Mafia”

ellis and walters

Pictured: Terry Powell, Heather Brown, Lew Yoder, Mayor Johnny Magee, Dorthy Stancill, Vanessa Jefcoat, Vickie Hatfield, and Dana Blackledge.

$200 cash prize and Carl Buchanan pottery

Homestyle Category:

3rd – Mo’ Smoke

2nd – Chili Wild

Pictured: Team Captain: Richard Williams. Tammy Williams. Kyle Kramer. Keri Kramer.

Winner – Fat Kid Rock

 

Pictured: Heather Brown, Magnolia State Bank. Mayor Johnny Magee. Lee Yoder, LMS President. Kim and Blaine Holifield. Jeff and Tiva Barrett.

$1,000 cash prize and chili pot trophy

Traditional Category: 

3rd – Chili Ray Cyrus

2nd – Three Amigos

three amigos

Pictured: Team Captain, Pete Blakeney. Dewayne Rayner. Jason Roberts.

Winner – Ring of Fire

ring of fire

Pictured: Russ Griffin. Adam Sauls. Hoss Nasajpour. Paul Read. Carl Buchanan.

$1,000 cash prize and chili pepper trophy

It took a village of people to make this event a success and we couldn’t have done it without them!

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 to adding to our collection each year.

Jim Thornhill – DJ extraordinaire – thank you for keeping the tunes going and making the atmosphere so fun!

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 at Crawfest in April!

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, Central Creativity opened their facility to host indoor kids’ educational and creative activities too.  We are so grateful for your partnership!

Our main street volunteers don’t get to rest on their laurels now; they’re rolling on to our next big event, Touch A Truck! Save the date for this wonderful family event — March 30, 2019.

It’s Time for the 8th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

On Saturday, February 9, 2019, Downtown Laurel will once again welcome over 3,000 hungry customers and 23 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 one hour 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 11:00 a.m. 

For just $10, you can enjoy an “all-you-can-eat” tasting bowl.  For $25, enjoy a “bottomless” Carl Buchanan keepsake pottery bowl.  These special bowls always sell out, so if you have your heart set on taking one home, be sure to get there early!

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

Sherri Marengo is a DJ and community relations director for iHeart Radio in Hattiesburg on SL-100 and 1037-WFFX, she is also a DJ weekends on 95KSJ in Mobile, AL and the host of Homegrown Country on K99 in Biloxi on Sunday nights.

Currently the president of Just Over the Rainbow Theatre, Sherri is an actor, director, stage manager, kid wrangler and technical director for local theater groups, and Vice-chair of Community Theatre on the board of directors of Mississippi Theater Association. She stays busy in the community volunteering her time and experience to help groups like Habitat for Humanity and The Petal Jaycees among others.

She and her husband Charlie, married 37 years, still live within walking distance of Panther Stadium and are members of Petal Harvey Baptist Church. They are parents to three grown children and 5 grandkids ages, 4 to 22.

Watch for her brand new podcast in the spring on iHeart Radio.

 

Randy Holland is the Sales Manager for Concrete Forming and Shoring Specialties Inc. of Laurel, MS and is a Life Member of the SERTOMA club of Laurel. He enjoys cooking and sampling dishes from fellow home cooks across the southeast. Randy and his wife of 32 years Debbie, have 2 sons, Kevin & Curtis

 

 

 

 

 

Roxanne “Roxie” Dunn has dabbled in the culinary arts all her life. Her mother was an Executive Chef with outstanding achievements across the country. Roxanne followed in her footsteps, working her way through family owned and self-owned restaurants and hotels in New
Orleans, Hilton Head, Jekyll Island, and Atlanta. She continued her career in the hospitality industry, consulting and managing restaurants and hotels throughout the country.
She has travelled abroad extensively and worked with “The Apple Club” in Italy for over a year. Roxanne resides in Laurel and studies under renowned Chef John Diggetts at The Loft on Central.

 

 

Andy MacDonald is an award-winning journalist working as Cuisine Editor for Lagniappe, a weekly newspaper out of Mobile, AL. He is the founding member of the bluegrass band Fat Man Squeeze and owner of Picker’s Paradise, a guitar store in the Mobile area, where he spends most of his time teaching and repairing instruments. Whatever is left of him goes to his three kids, Lucas, Graham and Henry and wife Katie.

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Activities

At the end of this year’s event, we will draw the winner in our “split the pot raffle.” Tickets for the raffle are $10 per ticket or $40 for 5 tickets and can be purchased at Magnolia State Bank, from LMS members, or at the event.

Kids Activities

Central Creativity is graciously opening their doors and offering educational children’s activities during the Chili Cook Off.  Central Creativity is located on the corner of 6th Avenue and Sawmill Road, and is about a one-minute walk from the downtown festivities.  For $5 per child, your kids can enjoy a day of hands-on experiments and take-home projects while you enjoy unlimited chili!

Magnolia State Bank will also offer a free hotdogs to children at the chili cook off who do not wish to eat chili.

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

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.

Additional Sponsors

The City of Laurel

Jones County Chamber of Commerce

Jones County Board of Supervisors

Sanderson Farms

Coca-cola United

Carl & Mandy BuchananMississippi PowerB Clean LLC, Mike Axton, The Gables, Southern Beverage

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 CountryiHeart Radio and SL100, WDAM, and Studio5Fifty for helping to organize the event and to Central Creativity for providing the children’s activities.

Join us February 9, 2019 in Downtown Laurel for the 8th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

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!

Legacy & Leadership: SouthGroup Insurance

SouthGroup Insurance Services is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. According to a Bloomberg report, 80% of businesses fail in the first 18 months. We admire their longevity and are pleased to share their story.  The following is an interview with Laurel Branch President, Brad Kent.

What is SouthGroup Insurance Services?

SouthGroup Insurance Services is a full-service independent insurance agency.  At our core, SouthGroup provides Property & Casualty and Life & Health insurance to businesses and individuals from a vast array of insurance carriers.  However, from the perspective of a business philosophy, we are actively engaged in helping businesses and families assess and manage the risks they face in everyday life.  Our mission is to manage risk and build personal relationships and partnerships in an environment of trust, integrity, teamwork and stability.

How did SouthGroup Insurance Services begin?

The story of SouthGroup, while unique, is a familiar story of business evolution like many family owned American businesses.  We take great pride in the fact that we have been a locally owned and operated company for 4+ generations. 

Our agency has a very long history in Laurel, as we are currently celebrating our 100th birthday.  In fact, we have continually served the people of Laurel and Jones County for 100 years.  Our earliest roots date back to 1918 with the formation of the Graves, Lindsey & McLaurin agency which was located in the Pinehurst Hotel. In 1929 the business moved into our current location on Central Avenue in downtown Laurel. 

CT Ferrell

SouthGroup Insurance – C.T. Ferrill Building – Central Avenue

My great grandfather, John H. Jones, grew up in Clinton, Iowa, as did several of Laurel’s oldest families.  After a successful career as a publisher in Chicago, he ultimately moved to Laurel and opened the John H. Jones Insurance Agency whose first offices were also in the Pinehurst Hotel.  Both Graves, Lindsey & McLaurin and John H. Jones continued successful independent operations in downtown Laurel until 1983 when a merger created Graves, Lindsey, McLaurin & Jones (GLMJ).  At that time, the companies were operated by Russell Lindsey and my grandfather, Irwin “Skinny” Bradford.

My grandfather died not long after the merger.  That’s when my father, Charles Kent, took over as the 3rd generation to lead the agency.  GLMJ continued success and consistent growth over the next 30 years.  However, times change and industries evolve.  Like many industries, market conditions over the last 20 years have changed and driven consolidation within the independent insurance industry. 

SouthGroup Insurance Services was first conceived in 2000 by a select group of insurance agency professionals from 12 of Mississippi’s leading insurance agencies.  These agencies, widely recognized as industry leaders by their peers, convened to consider the challenges facing successful agencies and the solutions to these challenges that would enable them to offer an incomparable level of service to their clients.  Those solutions were the genesis of SouthGroup.

On January 1, 2002, with the official merger completed, those 12 original agencies began operating under the SouthGroup banner with corporate offices in Ridgeland. 

Today SouthGroup is the largest independent insurance agency in Mississippi with offices in 22 locations.  SouthGroup is also 1 of 2 agencies on Insurance Journal’s list of Top 100 Privately-held Agencies in the United States.

However, the unique quality that SouthGroup possesses compared with other large agencies is our “Main Street approach”.  Rather than consolidating all of our offices, SouthGroup has continued operating in each location.  This validates our strong belief in the importance of building close, personal relationships with our clients, and serving our local community. 

How do you think SouthGroup will be different 5 years from now? 

SouthGroup’s plans are to continue to grow.  Like most businesses, technology is changing the way that we operate. Whether it’s internal technologies to make our business work more efficiently, utilizing social media platforms to engage the community or transacting business online, technology is changing our business all the time. Today SouthGroup operates “in the cloud” and strives to be as paperless as possible.  I predict that we will continue to embrace technology, and therefore it will promote change that presents challenges, but also leads to increased profitability.

Who do you want people to know about your services? 

First and foremost, we offer a valuable service to anyone that purchases insurance.  As an independent agency, we do not work for a single insurance company.  We offer choice, and choice is a vital necessity to promote competition, which leads to value. 

More specifically, SouthGroup remains the dominant business insurer in Laurel and Jones County.  Whether you are a sole proprietor, or you operate a large enterprise, SouthGroup has the products and services to compete for your business.  This includes general liability, commercial property, worker’s compensation, commercial auto and more.  Our clients range from small “mom and pop” businesses to several of the largest employers in Jones County.

What is your best advice for those looking to participate in the growth, revitalization and restoration of Downtown Laurel?  Our goal as Laurel Main Street is to support our existing businesses and recruit new ones. Why should people want to be a part of Downtown? What have you learned that can help that person on the verge of making the decision to start his or her own legacy as a downtown business?

I am a staunch believer in strengthening from your inner core.  Whenever I travel, I am always looking for a downtown area, and I judge the vibrancy of a community on the look and feel I get from the downtown area. Because of this, what is good for downtown Laurel, is good for all of Jones County.  As downtown Laurel continues to flourish, this will lead to increased tourism and economic development, which in turn will provide a higher quality of life for our local families and businesses.  My recommendation to everyone is that they get involved.  This may be as simple as volunteering, or as complex as purchasing downtown property and starting a new business.  While it seems that downtown Laurel is reaching critical mass, I believe that this could be just the beginning of something much more substantial for our community. This requires involvement at every level – families, entrepreneurs, the business community and local government must be in lockstep if we want to take downtown Laurel to the next level.