If you’ve ever stepped foot in or near Laurel, MS when the pollen is falling in sheets and buckets, then you’ve experienced an integral part of being a true southerner – the love (and hate) of the southern pine tree.
The tall, resilient pine has long been the backdrop of the storied history of Laurel, MS.
As the Eastmans, Gardiners and Rogers came in from Iowa to settle right here in Jones County it was the tall, swaying, yellow pines surrounded by beautiful, flowering Laurel bushes that inspired them to stay.
Industry – and the livelihoods it provided – was beckoning to their entrepreneurial souls, and soon The Eastman-Gardiner Lumber Co. was founded and Laurel became the yellow pine capital of the world.
Like many great innovators before him – John Lindsey watched the progress of the ever-growing lumber town, 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, MS.
Next, Laurel Machine & Foundry was created to supply parts for the 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 more opportunities for growth.
Each inspiration, each problem solved was another brick laid in the bustling streets of a town on the rise. Laurel owes it’s foundation and it’s very spirit to the yellow Loblolly pine – and those who saw ever-present opportunity even as the pollen covered their boots.
The 2015 Loblolly Festival
– Honoring Our Storied Past –
Saturday October 3rd, 2015 · 9am ’til 5pm
The Loblolly Festival is held annually on the first Saturday in October and celebrates Laurel’s heritage as a sawmill town.
Vendors from several states, artists, crafters and craftsmen set up shop in the streets of downtown Laurel for this one day event.
Tucked in close together atop the brick streets of Downtown Laurel, they’ll offer their latest creations to the surging crowds.
In one booth – prized artwork, in the next – a display of simple wooden toys; each manned by an artist or craftsman watching intently for those who appreciate their hard work and want to bring it into their lives.
From mid-morning to late-afternoon love and loss, memories and tall tales will fill the empty spaces between the towering downtown buildings as musicians and songwriters display their hearts and talents for the entranced festival-goers.
A few blocks away someone bites into the first authentic festival food of the season, balancing a long-anticipated funnel cake atop their recent purchases.
The flannel-adorned Laurel Lumberjack stands nearly a foot taller than all around him and quickly draws a crowd requesting photos and inquiring about the whereabouts of his lovely wife.
A chainsaw growls to life as a talented artist shapes logs and limbs into beautiful artwork surrounded by onlookers enjoying this favorite festival attraction, funded by a grant from the MS Arts Commission.
Teens flock to this year’s art contest “Loblolly Pine Tree – A Closer Look”, hoping to find the winning ribbon pinned to their own creation. Their little siblings squeal in delight as they watch the “Pooches on Parade” dog show and pick out their favorite furry friend.
Late into the evening the children’s train ride passes the Pinehurst Park fountain one last time, children slip on shoes outside the slowly deflating jumps and one last brave soul is flung excitedly from the mechanical bull.
Soon – the 2015 Loblolly Festival will be a recent memory, but for now, there is still time to experience the fun and nostalgia as we celebrate our storied past and enjoy our artful, musical, delicious present.
Join us for the 2015 Loblolly Festival in downtown Laurel, Saturday, October 3rd from 9am till 5pm!