Mobile Street Renaissance Festival celebrates 10th anniversary


The city of Hattiesburg, with the help of The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music, celebrated the 10th annual Historic Mobile Street Renaissance Festival this past weekend with four blocks of music, food, activities and an atmosphere of Southern heritage.

The event’s purpose was to commemorate the culture and history of Mobile Street as well as the surrounding areas in Hattiesburg.

On Oct. 3, a new marker advertised the continuing redevelopment program for Ward Two.

A bronze marker, the first of ten, at the intersection of East 4th and Mobile Streets commemorates the “Twin Forks Rising” program.

“It’s a heritage and arts festival that features culture of the South and really brings vendors a sense of appreciation for the past,” said Petra Wingo, volunteer coordinator.

USM band members performed at the festival, drumming on the side of the street while children pranced nearby.

“We got asked by Jay Dean, director of orchestral activities, to come and play, but we (really intend) to get the youth involved,” said percussionist Andy Gilstrap. “We do these things in the summer for festivals, and we thought it would be a good opportunity out and let some kids play.”

This was Khadija Hasan’s third time with the festival. She runs a community children’s center in Shubuta and spends her time at the festival promoting her company Your Meeting Place by selling homemade tea cakes and muscadine juice.

“I come out to the festival to support this community and my community,” Hasan said. “I love watching the members of the community enjoy the music and food that’s offered because it gives them a chance to enjoy and gives us a chance to gain support for our businesses.”

On Oct. 2, the festival kicked off at 7 p.m. with “Blues in the Street” at Mac’s Café on Mobile Street. The next morning, booths were open to be run all day. Throughout the day, barbeque cookoff, art show, and culinary workshop took place.

A boxing exhibition and children’s village were featured. A rhythm-and-blues stage featured artists Rashad Smith, Vasti Jackson, Johnny Rawls and Abid Sabir, among others.

“I’ve been a fan of this festival that has been going on for ten years and I was fortunate enough to be in this festival this year,” performer Rashad Smith said. “The festival is actually rebirthing the history that has always been a part of Hattiesburg.”

Smith went on to elaborate on the uniqueness of Mobile Street and the significance of its history.

“Mobile Street actually used to be the mecca of rock and roll music since the first rock-and-roll song was made (there),” Smith said. “This festival brings back the birth of the music and culture from the 1930s.”