For the past 14 years, Mobile Street in downtown Hattiesburg has played host to the Mobile Street Renaissance Festival, an annual celebration of the art and culture of the historic street and the area.
That tradition will continue on Oct. 3, when the event returns for its 15th anniversary with food, fun, events, music and other activities for the public.
“It brings life back in the community; we started this back in the early 2000s, and look at the changes that have occurred in the community since then,” said Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado, who organizes the event each year. “We wanted to bring attention back to it, and investment is not as much as we wanted, but it’s a whole lot better than it was when we started.
“It just gives us an opportunity to build a better reputation for the community, and to attract attention to it.”
From 9 a.m.-6 p.m., the event will feature livestreaming civic engagement panels from the main stage at the intersection at 4th and Mobile streets.
That includes “Graced for Today” featuring Edna Gray Jamison at 9 a.m., Forrest County voter education at noon, U.S. Senate campaigns at 1 p.m. and “Living Tobacco Free” at 2 p.m. That will be followed by Black Lives Matter at 3 p.m., “Surviving With a Testimony” (SWAT) at 4 p.m., “Ground Zero” at 5 p.m. and “Why Vote” at 6 p.m.
From 10-11:30 a.m., officials will conduct a historic Civil Rights marker unveiling titled “Honoring Their Fight for Voting Rights in Mississippi.” The marker will document the Rev. I.C. Pea et al vs. Luther Cox court case from April 11, 1950.
“That’s hugely significant, because it’s in our historic district,” Delgado said. “We’re going to be honoring the contributions of those men to file the first lawsuit in our area seeking voting rights for Black people.”
Food vendors will be on hand for drive-thru only service from 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. The drive-thru line will run from 7th Street to 5th Street and is one-way only.
“We are not allowing other vendors, because we don’t want that walking traffic,” Delgado said. “People will be able to drive through and place an order, and we’re also going to put up the phone numbers of the vendors so that people may be able to call in and place their orders early.”
From 8-11 p.m., participants can enjoy a family drive-in movie night at the African American Military History Museum, 306 East 6th St. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and food, and social distancing will be enforced.
Officials plan to play cartoons for children, followed by the movie “Black Panther.”
Although the movie is free of charge, any donations are welcomed to help offset the cost of the event.
“We are encouraging people to come by carloads, because we don’t want people to walk up,” Delgado said. “The squares that are marked off for us are big enough for a family to sit within that square and enjoy the movie.
“We wanted a family-friendly movie and something that was significant, so since (Chadwick Boseman) just passed away, we were thinking that might work.”
Delgado said it’s a huge honor to know that the event has been successful for 14 years and is now heading into its 15th anniversary.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m still stunned every year that we raise the budget, because it’s always a challenge, so I am just grateful to the community for pulling together and supporting it. It’s a community-based festival; we do not have a pot of money sitting anywhere that makes this happen.
“We have sponsors every year that come in and support us, and we are just eternally grateful to them for seeing the value in this festival. People expect it, and that’s a good thing. We considered seriously not having it this year because of the challenges that we face, but if people will come and wear those masks, (that’s great), and you can get the civic engagement panel at home over the internet. You can drive through and get food if you want that, and then in the evening you can drive out with your family and enjoy that movie.”
Livestreaming can be found on the Facebook pages for the Mobile Street Renaissance Festival, Twin Forks Rising and Deborah Delgado, as well on the Twin Forks Rising CDC YouTube channel.