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 Getting “Chili” Downtown!

Prepare the Way for the 8th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

On Saturday, February 9, 2019, Downtown Laurel will come alive as the thrill of intense competition fuels the teams lining historic Central Avenue for the 8th annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off.  Join us for one of Laurel Main Street’s most popular events and expose your business (and your top secret chili recipe) to over 3,000 hungry customers!

Come early to watch the teams set up and prepare their recipes from scratch.  No pre-chopping or pre-cooking allowed!  Each team prepares and cooks their secret chili recipe right out in the open for all to watch. Judging begins at eleven, when our expert panel tastes each entry and decides who wins the $1,000 grand prize in each category.

For just $10, you can enjoy an “all-you-can-eat” bowl or for $25, enjoy a “bottomless” Carl Buchanan keepsake pottery bowl. Tasting begins at 11:00 a.m. and the winners are announced at 2:30 p.m. 

Compete for a $1,000 GRAND PRIZE

Is your signature chili the talk of the town? Does your organization, business or group have a team ready to face the competition during the 2019 Chili Cook Off? Here’s your chance to show off your favorite recipe and compete for our fabulous prizes, all while contributing to the continued growth and revitalization of our beautiful Downtown!

Prizes generously provided by Magnolia State Bank

1st place Traditional: $1000 & the traveling chili trophy

1st place Homestyle:  $1000 & the traveling chili pot trophy

People’s Choice: $200 & Hand-crafted pottery by Carl Buchanan

Spirit Tent Award: $200 & Hand-crafted pottery by Carl Buchanan

Assemble your team of 5 or less members, gather your ingredients (all chili must be cooked on site) and prepare to face the judges!

Forms & Information

Download the forms below and return them to Laurel Main Street at 409 Oak Street (on the 2nd floor of Lee’s Coffee and Tea) by Monday, February 4, 2019 and get ready to delight the crowds and defeat the competition on February 9th!

Judging

In order to ensure fairness, teams will be scored in five categories based on their anonymous submission for tasting. Judges will evaluate entries based on color, aroma, consistency, taste and aftertaste (or bite).

Grand prize winners will be chosen for two categories–Traditional and Homestyle–and will receive $1000 and a traveling trophy. May the best chili win!

Want to compete in this year’s cook off? Click HERE to download registration forms.

Sponsorship Opportunities

This ever-growing event is THE place to be this February and the SPONSORSHIP DEADLINE is January 25, 2019.

The benefits of sponsoring a fun, family-friendly event such as this are sure to reach far beyond the day itself. Enjoy positive exposure while providing local consumers with an experience they’re sure to remember – right here in Downtown Laurel!

Thank you to Magnolia State Bank for their 7th consecutive 5-Alarm Sponsorship! Their generous support is vital to the success of this popular event as they directly provide the funds for our phenomenal prizes and event marketing. Available sponsorship levels include:

$2,500 Blazing Sponsor

  • Business feature LMS event page/Facebook/newsletter
  • Free cook off team entry
  • Choice of space at event 
  • Logo on event poster 
  • Eight entry tickets for your guests 
  • Eight VIP Breakfast tickets

Become A Blazing Sponsor

$1000 Hot Sponsor

  • Business feature LMS event page/Facebook/newsletter
  • Free cook off team entry
  • Choice of space at event
  • Name on event poster
  • Six entry tickets for your guests
  • Six VIP Breakfast tickets

Become A Hot Sponsor

$500 Spicy Sponsor

  • Business name listed LMS event page/Facebook/newsletter
  • Name on event poster
  • Four entry tickets for your guests
  • Four VIP Breakfast tickets

Become A Spicy Sponsor

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.

Please remit sponsorship payment to: Laurel Main Street, PO Box 1256, Laurel, MS 39441
Memo: Chili Cook Off 2019 Sponsorship
DEADLINE: January 25, 2019

Questions?  Contact the Chili Cook Off Chair, Robby Scruggs 601.319.0098 or Laurel Main Street, 601.433.3255.

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!

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!

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.