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

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.

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!

Come for the Festival, Stay for the Music

There are so many reason to look forward to fall in the south… a break from summer’s temperatures, football, pumpkin spice everything, and LOBLOLLY FESTIVAL!  This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, October 6th and will feature live music, craft demonstrations, vendors and food trucks from across the south.

Let Us Entertain You!

Our music lineup offers something for everyone!

From 9:00 -10:00 a.m the folks from Laurel Music Lessons will delight with selections from Minuets, to classic rock, to fiddle. The students (along with teachers and special guests!) will be playing a variety of music for you to enjoy!

At 10:15 a.m. Lloyd “Hurricane” Munn & the Forecasters will entertain the crowd with a wide variety of music ranging from “Buffett to Blues to Country.” You’re sure to be entertained by this fun bunch!

During the lunchtime hours (12:05-1:35 p.m.) you’ll enjoy the unique mix of original Southern rock and soul music from Midnight Revel. They bring a soulful, groove to make you move, but they aren’t afraid to let their rock influences get down and heavy! Midnight Revel recently finished recording their first full-length album at Downman Sounds Studio in New Orleans.

Be sure to stick around for Laurel’s own John Milham and The Inner Mission Band from 1:55-3:25 p.m. John Milham has been a professional musician since 1997 touring the world and playing drums with many artists. Festival goers are sure to enjoy this performance!

Rounding out our performers this year is Young Valley. They enjoy trading styles from traditional country to southern-tinged rock ‘n roll with catchy melodies, harmonica, and plenty of guitar. You might have caught their show at Slowboat Brewing Co. earlier this year and we’re so glad to have them back in town!

 

Official 2018 Loblolly Festival Music Lineup

9:00 a.m. – Laurel Music Lessons

10:15 a.m. – Lloyd “Hurrican” Munn & the Forecasters

12:05 p.m. – Midnight Revel

1:55 p.m. – John Milham and The Inner Mission Band

3:45 p.m. – Young Valley 

 

And be sure to check out Eric Woods, Paul Johnson, and Jesse Howell on The Knight Butcher stage!

Loblolly Festival: Celebrating the Town that Timber Built

Like most southerners, I have a love/hate relationship with pine trees.  They’re immensely useful when building a picnic table or fluffing flower beds with the straw they provide.  But they also wreak havoc on allergy sufferers when pollen falls in sheets, changing the color of everything on which it lands.

Love them or hate them, the graceful southern pine tree is the foundation for our town and in a few short weeks we’ll forget all about its yellow pollen and sticky sap, and celebrate the town that timber built.

From Swamps to Splendor

Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Co.

In 1891, the Gardiner brothers from Iowa arrived in Jones county and purchased a sawmill operation and 16,000 acres of timberland and the Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Company was born.  The Gardiners and their cousins, the Eastmans, sent for their families and set out to build their own slice of paradise amidst the piney woods of Laurel.  As the men developed their business, Catherine Marshall Gardiner made it her mission to create a beautiful city for her family in the yellow pine capital of the world.      

Like many great innovators before him, John Lindsey watched the progress of the ever-growing lumber town. He recognized a need and created a way to solve it. Soon, The 8-wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon was patented and folks from all over the world came to hear of a little town in South Mississippi.

The 8 Wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon

The 8 Wheeled Lindsey Log Wagon

By 1908, Mississippi ranked 3rd in the country for lumber production and Laurel was turning out 1,000,000 board feet of lumber a day.

Next, Laurel Machine & Foundry was created to supply parts for the Lindsey wagon and William H. Mason invented a process to create a hardboard from the waste provided by the mills, supplying the little piney woods town with more jobs and even more opportunities for growth.

Masonite Corporation

Each inspiration, each problem solved was another brick laid in the bustling streets of a town on the rise. Laurel owes its foundation and its very spirit to the yellow Loblolly pine and those who saw ever-present opportunity even as the pollen covered their boots.

Be a #LoblollyLover and join us on Saturday, October 6, 2018 for a celebration of heritage in the town that timber built.