Mobile St. Festival to celebrate culture

By BETH BUNCH,

Music, barbecue, pound cake and a boxing exhibition will be highlighted during the 14th annual Historic Mobile Street Renaissance Festival on Friday and Saturday in downtown Hattiesburg.

The festival begins at 6 p.m. Friday with live Blues in the Street at Mac’s Café at Fifth and Mobile streets.

Prior to the start of the festival on Friday, a ribbon cutting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the new Twin Forks Rising Community Development Corporation Office located at 601 East Pine Street. Mayor Toby Barker and Hattiesburg City Council members will join the group for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“The ribbon cutting for the Twin Forks Rising Community Development Corporation offices has been a very long time coming,” Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said. “Its purpose is to guide and drive the comprehensive redevelopment of Ward 2.” 

Delgado said this would be done against a backdrop of poverty, a history of flooding and three major disasters – Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes in 2013 and 2017.  “With a great plan in place we finally begin the task of building a great place to live: Twin Forks Rising,” she said.

Barker believes Mobile Street plays a vital role in the city’s history.

“This annual festival continues its tradition of honoring that history through good food, music, fellowship and celebration of neighbors,” said Barker. “As a part of the newly-established Hub City Historic District, I look forward to this event contributing to this neighborhood’s continued renaissance.”

As a special presentation, on Saturday there will be two reveal ceremonies. The first, at 8:30 a.m., will honor the late Wayne McMickle Sr. with the renaming of the street, Poplar Row, in his honor. This street is located between East 7th Street and East 6th Street and is two blocks west of Mobile Street.

The second presentation will be the unveiling of the fourth of 10 Twin Forks Rising Community Redevelopment District monument signs at the intersection of Dabbs Street and Milton Barnes Avenue at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Delgado said after 14 years, the Historic Mobile Street Renaissance Festival has become an institution in the area.

These two presentations will kick off the festival which will include food vendors, a children’s village, local school performances a sanctioned boxing event, gospel music performances, an art show, political stage and new art walk. Among those performing are Zach Koch, Vince Hutchinson, Bucket List and the Pine Belt’s own T-Bone Pruitt.

“Festival supporters seem to look forward to it as much as the committee,” she said. “We are happy about its growth and look forward to offering more of an experience in the years to come.”

A Sweet Potato Pie contest and a “Vegan Burger Battle,” which were started in 2017, are back again. There is also a Pound Cake contest, now in its second year.

Entry forms and rules are located on the festival website, mobilestreetfestival.com, and may be picked up at the Rhythm Heritage Foundation office, 215 Mobile St. First prize in each category is $300, second prize is $100 and third prize is $50. The new categories of competition are designed to attract a wide range of community interests and participation.

As always, a bike show is also part of this year’s festival. Motorcycle enthusiasts are invited to come and show off their rides. Trophies will be awarded for Best of Show, Best Use of Chrome, Best Handmade Part, Best Paint and Oldest Motorcycle.

Bike owners must register for each category. The show begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with judging at 2 p.m. Awards will be announced at 5 p.m. on the Blues Stage.

There’s still time if you’d like to be a vendor at this year’s festival. Booth space is $90, plus an extra fee for electricity. Food can only be sold in food vendor booths.

For the Sho’Nuff Good Barbecue Contest there will be judging in two categories – chicken and ribs – and more than $3,000 in cash prizes will be awarded. A panel of celebrity judges will determine the winners.

Entry fee for the Sho Nuff Good Barbecue Cookoff is $70 per category.

This year’s festival is sponsored by The Twin Forks Rising, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, and The Mobile-Bouie Neighborhood Association in conjunction with the City of Hattiesburg.

The festival is designed to celebrate the rich music and cultural heritage of the historic black business and entertainment district of the City.

Applications and rules are available at mobilestreetfestival.com and at 215 Mobile St.

For information more about the festival, see mobilestreetfestival.com or call (601) 602-4669 or (225) 921-0656.

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