Today, this subtle, rebellious spirit of her residents still lies under the surface as young families forsake the ubiquitous surroundings of large, suburban cities for a slower pace of life. Never has it been more evident with the majority of growth realized by self-made, multi generational companies and world-class corporations who call Jones County home.
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 2016 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.