Thank You for Another Incredible Loblolly Festival!

THANK YOU for an INCREDIBLE Loblolly Festival!  This year’s festival saw over 150 vendors and over 10,000 attendees packing the streets of downtown Laurel.  In addition to being the largest Loblolly Festival ever, it was also, quite possibly, the hottest Loblolly Festival ever.  Thank you to all who came out to stroll through the streets of Downtown Laurel, listen to great music, enjoy delicious food, shop and play!

A huge THANK YOU goes out to all who worked so hard to make this year’s festival such a great success!

First, we would like to thank the Laurel Main Street volunteers and board members for making this day possible and for helping us organize this incredible event. LMS volunteers meticulously marked each vendor’s booth space on Friday evening, and were back downtown early Saturday morning to direct vendor traffic and assist with setup.  The Loblolly Festival just wouldn’t be possible without you!

Next, thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors, especially Howard IndustriesJones County Board of Supervisors and Chamber of CommerceSanderson FarmsSouthern BeverageB Clean LLCTrustmark National BankBancorpSouth, Coca-Cola, Gilchrist Sumrall Yoder Yoder & Leggett PLLCCommunity BankHolt & AssociatesMagnolia State Bank, Mississippi Power and First State Bank.

To the City of Laurel, the Laurel Police Department, Laurel Fire Department and Parks & Recreation Department — thank you for your support and for keeping the festival-goers, vendors, musicians and volunteers safe, and our downtown clean!

Many organizations came together to cover the logistics of producing an event of this size. We are so appreciative of your time and efforts to make this all possible.  We would specifically like to thank Studio 5 FiftyOwn Your HillSlowboat Brewing Co., Clairmont & Co., The Knight Butcher, Crescent Line Toys, Masonite, Jr. Auxiliary of Laurel, and Pro-Flow Motorsports.

We appreciate the efforts of the local media and your continued support and coverage of this great event. With the help of the Laurel Leader-CallThe ImpactWDAMB95Rock 104, and SuperTalk, we were able to reach and serve more locals and out of town folks than ever before!

We would like to thank the Laurel Arts League for their partnership in producing the Art on Masonite contest.  Congratulations to these fine young artists!

art on masonite

1st Place – Mackenzie Masters, West Jones High School

art on masonite

3rd Place – Olivia Thornton, West Jones Middle School

 

art on masonite

2nd Place — Grace LaPan, Northeast Jones High School

Scarecrow Invasion

Thank you to all the businesses who participated in this year’s Scarecrow Invasion!  It was a rousing success and saw more participation and creativity than we ever envisioned!  Congratulations are in order for these outstanding participants!

Honorable Mention

Trustmark Bank, Patina’s, and Sherrell Upholstery

3rd Place

The Loblolly Boutique/Crescent Line Toys

2nd Place

Oak Street Salon

1st Place

Jack and Jill Consignment Boutique

scarecrow invasion

1st Place — Jack & Jill Consignment Boutique

We also saw tremendous participation and creativity in the inaugural Jr. Scarecrow Invasion!  Congratulations to the following participants:

3rd Place

St. John’s Day School “Blackbird Pie”

2nd Place

Nora Davis Magnet School “Crayola Box”

1st Place

St. John’s Day School “Reese’s Candy”

scarecrow invasion

1st Place — Jr. Scarecrow Invasion — St. John’s Day School

Lastly, we would like to thank the residents and business owners of Downtown Laurel. Your help in clearing the streets before the festival and graciously allowing us to fill the downtown area with tents, rides, and food trucks, is absolutely vital to the success of an event such as this. Your continued support for the efforts of Laurel Main Street makes us so proud to call Downtown Laurel home!

See y’all next year at Loblolly Festival — Saturday, October 5, 2019!

101 Things to do Downtown THIS WEEKEND

Ok… not really 101 things to do, but there is SO much going on this weekend!  Loblolly Festival is all about arts, crafts, food, and family fun!  Here’s the rundown of places to go, drink, eat, and play!

Food + Drinks

Enjoy delicious festival food from the vendors and food trucks that line the 400 block of Oak Street.  You’ll find corn dogs, funnel cakes, fish on a stick, award-winning BBQ, hot tamales, steak sandwiches, baked goods and more!  Stop by the beverage wagon near the Loblolly stage (near Trustmark Bank) for a cup of Budweiser, Bud Lite, and Michelob Ultra or taste a craft beer brewed locally by Slowboat Brewing Company while you enjoy live music.  It is ok to sip and stroll, just stay within the boundaries of the festival, which is the walkable downtown.  For more information on the sip and stroll ordinance, click here.

If food trucks aren’t your style, never fear.  Your favorite downtown eateries will be open too!  Stop by old favorites such as Café La FleurThe Loft (dinner only)Lee’s Coffee & Tea, and The Knight Butcher or check out downtown’s newest additions, Sweet Somethings BakeryShug’s Cookie Dough and Candy Bar, and The Pearl Diner.2018 Loblolly map

Family + Fun

An expanded Kids’ Zone at Loblolly Festival means there’s something to delight and entertain kids of all ages.  You’ll find fun jumps, rides, slides, train rides and more! Enjoy face painting, a special craft area at HAND+made and fun learning activities from Central Creativity.  On Central Avenue, big kids will get a thrill from riding the mechanical bull, water surfing, and much more!

central creativity

Walk through downtown and enjoy the creative, life-size scarecrows on display as part of our Scarecrow Harvest, a growing yearly competition among downtown merchants.

International World Cup champion chainsaw artist, Dayton Scoggins, carves all day near in center of downtown near Mimmo’s.  You’ll be mesmerized watching him and observing his attention to detail in every cut he makes!

Student artwork painted on Masonite door skins will be on display at the YWCO of Laurel, depicting this years’ theme, “Laurel — the Future IS Ours. ”  Be sure to stop in, take a take a break from the heat, and admire Laurel’s talented young artists.

Your family will love the annual Heritage Arts Festival at Lauren Rogers Museum of Art!  Enjoy FREE music and art activities, FREE pizza and soft drinks at 11:30 a.m.  While you’re at the museum, stop in to see their current exhibit, DaVinci’s Machines, on display through November 11th.  Laurel First United Methodist Church will host their annual Pumpkin Patch fundraiser during Loblolly Festival. The Pumpkin Patch will be open from 12-6 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th, on the front lawn of the church. Purchase a great pumpkin and support the student ministry of FUMC!

Live Music + Entertainment

Enjoy live music on the Loblolly Stage located on North Magnolia Street, near Trustmark Bank. 

The Knight Butcher Stage on Central Avenue will also host live music throughout the day.

11:00 – 11:50: Eric Woods

12:00 – 12:50: Paul Johnson

1:00 – 2:00: Jesse Howell

And don’t forget to join us at the Official Loblolly Afterparty at Slowboat Brewing Company beginning at 5:30pm with live music from Molly Thomas The Rare Birds!

Celebrations + More

Meet the Loblolly Lumberjack, a definite crowd favorite as he towers over the festival goers adorned in plaid and carrying his trusty axe. Geo-cachers, check your websites and join the hunt for special treasure hidden in historic downtown Laurel! Stop by the Gazebo at Pinehurst Park for any information you may require during the day’s event. Remember, all Laurel Main Street events are rain or shine so plan accordingly!

With so much to see and do downtown this weekend, you’ll want to commemorate all the fun you had, so be sure to visit the Laurel Main Street trailer during Loblolly Festival and purchase an official Loblolly t-shirt!

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 because it’s our largest Loblolly Festival EVER!  Here are some tips to help you enjoy the festival, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran.  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 stationed on West Oak St., and purchase 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 schedule:

When you arrive be sure to pick up a map.  If you’re a strategic shopper, this will definitely make it easier for you to find any specific vendors you came to see.  

2018 Loblolly map

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.

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

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

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! 

Scarecrow Invasion!

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!

2017 Scarecrow Harvest Winner: Crow-nado!

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 5, 2018, in time for judging and the Loblolly Festival on Saturday, October 6th.  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 2, 2018.

Judging for the top three scarecrow designs will take place

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.

MMSA Downtown Revitalization Awards: Outstanding Community Transformation

The Mississippi Main Street Association‘s award for Outstanding Community Transformation is given each year to a Main Street program that has achieved a successful, preservation-based downtown revival. The recognized program will have accomplished major goals in downtown revitalization and has both qualitative and quantitative examples to show the measurable impact. A heavy emphasis is placed on the human resources it took to accomplish the work. On June 21, 2018, Laurel Main Street board president, Lew Yoder, accepted this honor at the annual MMSA Downtown Revitalization Awards in Jackson, MS. The following narrative was written by Ethan Davis and was submitted to the Mississippi Main Street judges panel.

Outstanding Community Transformation

How do you bring a town back? It’s a question that has no easy answers, and the answers that are given usually require years and more work than one might ever imagine. However, for Downtown Laurel, there is no question that the town has been revived in a powerful way.

It all started when a group of people who loved Laurel sat down together in a room and decided to start a Main Street Program. They couldn’t afford to pay the director or start projects or offer services, but they knew they had to do something to save their hometown. That group became Laurel Main Street’s first board. From there that group changed and grew. When one person couldn’t serve anymore, someone stepped in to fill the space, and here we are a decade later: Mississippi’s Downtown.

The change took time; it happened slowly, then all at once. LMS worked constantly to make Laurel a place where people wanted to live, work, and play. Projects of all shapes and sizes had to take place, and business recruitment was paramount. Results were small at first, but they grew with time.

About two years ago, things really started heating up. The events and promotions LMS produces had kept a steady stream of people interested in the downtown, which put us on the radar of some people with great hope for what Laurel could be. They pursued their dreams using LMS as a starting point and support system along the way. In the past two years, more than a dozen businesses have opened in Downtown Laurel representing millions in private investment, and more are coming. Vacant buildings are now the exception rather than the rule, and a person can spend all day downtown and still not visit all of the stores.

The local business owners are the hero of this story because they took a risk when no one else would. But, it never would have happened if that original group hadn’t met. It never would have happened if dedicated volunteers hadn’t served at LMS events or if the community hadn’t welcomed each new addition to the downtown family. LMS stands at the center of a web that is filled with people who are willing to work hard every day to make Laurel their home and to make their home worth preserving. The truly amazing thing is that the idea of Downtown Laurel is now an exciting one; it’s a place where change happens and futures are crafted. It’s a place where history is lived and not just remembered.