Pardon our progress. Those words should adorn  signs around downtown Laurel come Saturday and the annual Loblolly Festival, the city’s largest annual street party.

Walk through downtown and notice the work being done on the streets — especially 5th Avenue. The facelift on our streets has been a long time coming and the slight inconvenience today is worth the smooth commute in the future. Also notice the continued revitalization of dilapidated buildings in the neighborhood. Even the long-shuttered space between the Leader-Call’s office on North Magnolia Street and J. Parker Reclaimed is getting a facelift. A nice urban green space perhaps?

Other buildings are constantly being worked on and businesses opening. Visitors are continuing to flow into the city and we expect they will be here en masse on Saturday. More than 200 vendors will be shopping their wares on the streets in the entertainment district as quality local and regional music will ring through the streets. Have you heard the band Young Valley yet? They will close out the festival Saturday afternoon and should be on the “can’t miss list.”

There was a time not too long ago when one of the few days people could be found in downtown Laurel was the Loblolly Festival. Then they would scurry home not to be seen again until the Christmas parade. But those times are gone now, where every day is a downtown boom time.

Haven’t been to downtown Laurel in a while? Make the trek on Saturday. The weather will still resemble that of summer — relief is on the way, we promise — but that just means more business for the lemonade stands.

Enjoy the Loblolly Festival. Be happy. Be responsible. Be a part of it all. This year’s attendance could dwarf that of years past — if the constant influx of visitors every day is increasing.

It’s Loblolly, y’all! We will see you there.

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