Rob Walker, 33, is a Petal native and Jones County Junior College graduate. Walker loves fishing and kayaking on the river and you can usually find him at one of the bars in Downtown Hattiesburg. After getting his first camera in middle school, nearly two decades passed before his love affair with photography came into full bloom. Specializing in live music photography, Walker was named Best Event Photographer in this year’s Best of the Pine Belt awards. His portrait is compliments of fellow photographer Grant Hobgood.
For the third year, Signature Magazine inducted four new members into the Best of the Pine Belt Hall of Fame. Inductions were made during a dinner at 206 Front and sponsored by First Bank, prior to the Best of the Pine Belt Awards Show at the Saenger Theater.
Eight years ago, Signature Magazine instituted the Best of the Pine Belt Awards, designed to showcase the Who’s Who of the Pine Belt’s businesses, personalities, cuisine and charitable organizations. That was followed four years later by the Best of the Pine Belt Awards Show, where the awards were given to spotlight the people, places and businesses that make the area unique.
Home is typically the place that still brings out a smile in all of us in the darkest of times.
“As we started planning this year’s Laughs 4 Life event this idea of celebrating home became an idea we wanted to embrace,” said Kent Oliver, who oversees the Hatttiesburg event.
The 68th Miss Hospitality Competition will be held at 8 p.m. July 20-21 at the Historic Hattiesburg Saenger Theater in Downtown Hattiesburg.
In its 21st year as host city, Hattiesburg will showcase this year’s best and brightest young women as they compete for the title of Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality. Thirty-one women, who represent all regions of the state, will vie for the title of Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality, with the winner serving for a full year as the state’s official ambassador for economic development and tourism.
Best Unsung Hero
Andrea Saffle • Kathy Garner
Dr. LB Bell • Sarah Newton
Best Local Instagrammer
Alex May (@mindful_yet_mindless)
Smellin Keller Moreno (@smellin_keller) • Tyner Sullivan (@mr_todd_tomorrow)
Bridget Prater Smith (@blendingbybetty) • Larran Ulmer (@ripeweb)
Best Musical Group
Pine Belt Pickers
Dell is the great-nephew of Leottis “Lee” Barnett, the namesake of Lee’s Coffee & Tea. Before moving to Laurel, Dell lived in Texas and Arizona, where he developed a great appreciation for fine craft coffee and beer and honed his skills making both at home. Missing the coffee culture to which he had become accustomed, Dell saw an opportunity to help build one in the growing downtown Laurel district. The stars aligned, and he found himself in charge of one of the staples of the community.
Lyman Corbitt “Mac” Mcanally Jr, 61, is an American country music singer/songwriter, session musician and record producer. He has recorded 10 studio albums and eight singles. Two of his singles were hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and six more on the Hot Country Songs charts. He has sung with Kenny Chesney, produced for Sawyer Brown and Restless Heart and is a member of Jimmy’ Buffett’s backing band, The Coral Reefer Band. He was born in Red Bay, Ala., but does his best writing on his porch in Sheffield, Ala. He composed his first song at the age of 15.
Now in its ninth year, FestivalSouth continues to enjoy a part of the Hub City’s days and nights each summer. This year FestivalSouth runs June 9-23.
The multi-genre arts festival was the brainchild of Jay Dean, who recently retired as music director for the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company.
Dean said the idea for FS was developed in 2009 because he wanted to create a major community-based arts and entertainment event.
“It took 18 months to bring it to fruition in June 2010,” he said.