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!

December Downtown: Bring on the FUN!

There’s no doubt that Downtown Laurel is a special place, but it shines especially bright during the Christmas season.  Whether you’re admiring the meticulously decorated store windows or taking a stroll under the majestic oaks of 5th Avenue, we invite you to breathe in the magic of the holidays.  Laurel Main Street invites you to fill up, hang out, and kick back while you savor the joy of small-town Christmas.

Make Spirits Bright

Art Class at Lauren Rogers Museum of Art — Thursday, December 18th from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. — Grades K5-6th. Participants will make a variety of handmade Christmas tree ornaments and a Christmas art project. While you’re in the neighborhood, enjoy the charming preserved and restored homes lining Laurel’s brick-paved 5th Avenue.

Enjoy an integrated retail & DIY experience at HAND+made by Clairmont & Co. On Wednesday, December 12th and Saturday, December 22nd you’ll enjoy a special Mom + Me Craft & Story Time.  Looking for a girl’s night out?  Get your friends together for Corks + Crafts on December 14th.

Also on December 14th is Holiday Date Night at The Gift Shop at Oak Street Place.  Have dinner or dessert at Lee’s Coffee and Tea, then shop for Christmas presents! Get 20% off at the Gift Shop with your purchase at Lee’s. Lee’s full menu is available, and we hear it’s board game night, too!

What Fun it is to Ride & Sing

The 2018 Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour is making a stop in the City Beautiful again this year! The illuminated vehicle has become a global advertising icon and symbol of holiday happiness since first gracing the TV airwaves nearly two decades ago. The real-life Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks spread holiday cheer throughout Mississippi during the month of December. Once the sun has set, you are invited to enjoy an incredible after-dark experience, as the truck lights up! The Coca-Cola Christmas Truck will be set up on the 400 block of Central Avenue on Thursday, December 20th from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Take pictures with the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck and Santa,  and enjoy free giveaways and more!

Contact Sweet Somethings Bakery to book a carriage ride through downtown.

Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him

The First-Trinity Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir will present their annual Lessons & Carols service on Sunday, December 16th at 6:00 p.m. This year’s service will include choral works by Francois Poulenc, Leo Sowerby, Paul Manz, and Mack Wilberg. This is always a wonderful evening of sacred music and childcare is provided.

First Baptist Church of Laurel will present “The Glory of Christmas” with their Celebration Choir & Orchestra, along with a cast of students, children, shepherds, & wise men celebrate.  Performances are scheduled for Saturday, December 15th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 16th at 6:00 p.m.

The Agape Church offers three opportunities to hear the message of Christmas in music.  Saturday, December 22nd at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 23rd at 10:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. The cost is absolutely FREE but, due to limited space, you must reserve your seats.

Discover the Magic of Enchanting Downtown Laurel

On December 21nd, from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. our downtown merchants will host a very special Christmas after-hours event

HAND+made– Christmas story read every 30 min, refreshments provided, manger scene craft, & discounts in store

Laurel Mercantile & Scotsman General Store– Santa’s workshop

Lott Furniture & Laurel Leaf– Nativity in Maker’s Alley, refreshments provided

Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar– Gingerbread men cookie decorating kits available for $5

Allie’s on Magnolia– Hot chocolate bar, sales in store

Guild & Gentry– Refreshments provided, live music

Loblolly Boutique & Crescent Line Toys– Glamping in Trustmark Art Park

Adam Trest Home– Discounts in store

Southern Antiques– Photos w/Snoopy, DIY Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Patina’s– refreshments provided, sales in store

YWCO– Cookies w/ Mrs. Claus

Lee’s Coffee & Tea / Gift Shop at Oak Street Place– Live music featuring Harmonia

Sass & Class Boutique– Reindeer food

Peddlers Junktion– DIY vintage inspired stocking available for $5, door prizes, sales in store

New Look– Snowman ornament craft available for $6

Razme’s Party Supplies– Pictures w/Santa

Cosmic Deli– Special dessert: Christmas cookie cheesecake

Jack & Jill’s Consignment Boutique– OPEN

J Parker– OPEN

The Pearl Diner– OPEN

Sweet Somethings Bakery– OPEN

Pause Coffee & Espresso Bar– OPEN

Boutique on Central– OPEN

The Knight Butcher– OPEN

Bella Bella– OPEN

Fill Up, Hang Out, Kick Back

The Pearl Diner – home cooking that you don’t have to cook at home!  Blue plate lunches are offered Tuesday – Friday beginning at 11:00 a.m.  The Pearl Diner is located on the corner of Oak and Magnolia Streets in the former Burton’s Jewelry building.

The Knight Butcher – Lunch is served at Laurel’s only full-service butcher shop daily from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Be sure to check their Facebook page to see their daily lunch specials.  Stop by Monday – Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to pick up gourmet meats, delicious homemade fudge, and The Knight Butcher’s famous jerky!

Lee’s Coffee & Tea – Lee’s is a downtown favorite with gourmet coffees, organic teas, soups, paninis, and more.  Enjoy local art while you rest up from your adventures.  Lee’s is open Monday – Thursday from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., and Sundays from NOON – 5:00 p.m.

Sweet Somethings Bakery – This family-owned bakery and ice cream shop on Central Avenue offers something to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.  Stop by and get your sugar fix any time Monday – Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Shug’s Cookie Dough and Candy Bar – delectable treats to sit and savor or take them to-go are available at Shug’s!  This gourmet cookie dough bar provides sweet treats for all tastes including traditional childhood favorite candies (Jelly Belly! Peach Rings! M&Ms!) to more refined and grown up treats (truffles galore!) all sold by the pound. Shug’s is open Monday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., and Sunday 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Mimmo’s Ristorante Pizzeria – Laurel’s newest restaurant is open for lunch and dinner!  Enjoy traditional Italian food and wines as well as brick oven pizza.  They’re open Monday – Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The Loft – The Loft has become a downtown staple and serves dinner Tuesday – Saturday beginning at 5:00 p.m.  Enjoy casual dining with indoor and outdoor seating.  Perfect for groups, children, parties and more.

Slowboat Brewing Company – Slowboat Brewing Company is a brewer owned and family operated micro-brewery in historic downtown Laurel.  Their primary focus is small batch artisan styles, including Farmhouse, Wild, Belgian style, Barrel-aged, experimental ales, and an ever-evolving portfolio of popular American craft beer styles. Stop in for samples, tours, trivia, live music and more! For hours and entertainment lineups, visit them on Facebook or Instagram!

Cafe La Fleur — Café La Fleur is up and running once again!  Stop by to have some of your old favorites or try something new at this locally owned New Orleans style eatery.

More Ways to Make it Merry

Enjoy a day full of Christmas festivities at Landrum’s Country!  The Christmas Candlelight Tour at Landrum’s Country on December 16th is sure to bring out the holiday cheer in all who attend.

We encourage you to enjoy all the locally owned stores and restaurants, make a memory, start a tradition, and most of all, make your holidays merry and bright!

 

 

Tagged christmasdowntownHome Towni live in laurelLaurelLaurel Main Streetlaurel mslive musicshop local

The Annual Downtown Laurel Christmas Tree Lighting

If you take a drive around the historic district in the coming weeks, there’s one truth you won’t be able to miss – we love Christmas in Downtown Laurel!

From the shining Christmas trees decorating each home on 6th Avenue, the wreaths lining the streets of downtown and our favorite display of all, the City of Laurel’s official Christmas tree in Pinehurst Park.  It’s clear that we celebrate our favorite season like no one else, and nothing says Christmas in Laurel more than the official lighting of the city Christmas tree.  We would love for you to celebrate this Christmas tradition with us!

The 2018 Laurel Christmas Tree Lighting

Thursday, November 29th | beginning at 5:30 PM

Sponsored by BancorpSouth, the City of Laurel and Laurel Main Street

5:30 p.m. – First Baptist Church of Laurel Children’s Choirs — Jonathan & Cindy McKenzie, Directors

5:45 p.m. – Students of Laurel Music Lessons – Alexis Frenette & Joshua Rooks, Directors

6:00 p.m. – Laurel High School Concert Choir – LaTisha Hamilton, Director

The official welcome will be delivered by Lew Yoder, president of Laurel Main Street, followed by a special greeting by Mayor Johnny Magee. Soon after, the park will spring to life as Seth Assink, President of BancorpSouth, lights our beloved Downtown Christmas Tree.

After the tree lighting, enjoy the festivities at the Laurel-Jones County Library Open House. Bring the kids to meet Santa, enjoy arts and crafts, and free refreshments.

Many of our downtown merchants will extend their hours for this event so be sure to stick around, shop awhile, and enjoy a stroll under the lights of beautiful downtown Laurel.