The Loblolly Festival’s Impact on Laurel


Laurel, Miss. train mural above the Scotsman Co. General Store | Photo: Abigail Troth

The City of Laurel hosted the annual Loblolly Festival on Oct. 1, 2022 in Downtown. This year’s event was expected to be the biggest festival yet, featuring 229 vendors along the streets of Downtown Laurel. There was live music, food, kids activities, chainsaw wood-art demonstrations, among a plethora of other things. While the city gathered for the beloved festival, many wonder how this festival was started and just how impactful it is.  

Thousands were gathered for the event, dousing the streets of Laurel to support small businesses, enjoy live music, and explore “The City Beautiful.” People came from all over the South to visit the event, which was no doubt another success. However, many also wonder how Loblolly got started, and just how impactful it truly is.  

Laurel, Mississippi was first established in 1882, and one thing was quickly noticed about the Southern town—the Loblolly wood, or “yellow pine.” The town became known for the pine, which helped sustain the economy and raise the population in Laurel. As the years passed, and Laurel grew, the residents of the town found a way to honor the wood that built their city, doing so through the Loblolly Festival.  

While the festival was originally called the Main Street Festival, this was changed in 2008. Since then, it has been called the Loblolly Festival, and has only grown in popularity. The festival has been featured on HGTV’s popular Laurel-based television series “Home Town.” The event and the series helps to bring tourism to the city, bringing attention to the beloved Laurel Mercantile and Scotsman Co. General Store.  

The festival is only held one day of the year, on the first Saturday in October. But once the event is held, it encapsulates the community and helps establish the home town charm that Laurel is renowned for.  

“We can all just get together and have a good time and celebrate that with food, art, music. It’s a really, really fun time and it really enhances the experience downtown,” said Seth Walker, a Laurel Mercantile employee.  

The festival also helps to bolster support of community businesses. As vendors from all over the state, and especially Laurel, flood the streets, the festival is a way for businesses to show off what they have to offer to the public. Featuring boutiques, handmade items, homemade recipes, and so much more, the festival is doing what it can to aid small businesses.  

“It draws thousands of people to the downtown. Whether you’re a restaurant or a shop, you’re guaranteed a lot of foot traffic that day,” said Laurel Main Street Promotions Chair Keri Rowell said.  

The Loblolly Festival is one of the biggest events in Laurel, and is a beloved event that will be remembered for generations to come.