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More than 70,000 expected to attend

Oct. 13 HUBfest good for business — and community

HATTIESBURG — The Area Development Partnership will present the 17th-annual HUBfest downtown Oct. 13, 2001.

More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which will showcase more than 500 vendors and exhibitors from across the Southeast. Designated as a “Top 20 Event” by the Southeast Tourism Society, according to Cheryl Phillips, ADP communications director, the festival is a Southern celebration featuring arts, crafts, festive foods and entertainment from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Beverly Dunham, ADP programs and special events coordinator, said that HUBfest and its springtime sister event, Old Time Festival, bring guests to the city from throughout the Southeast and is a good way to showcase the entire community.

“These two events bring lots and lots of people to our downtown area that might not go down there normally,” Dunham noted.

Among the various sanctioned events is a new kickoff event for Friday night: the Pink Ribbon Fun Run/Walk, a relay for life fund-raiser. American Cancer Society volunteer Jill Hernandez explored links to several organizations to offer a fundraising or awareness event specifically targeted to breast cancer, contacting both the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” program. The opportunity to link a fun run/walk to HUBfest was a great solution, according to Hernandez, because October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The “Pink Ribbon” name was agreed upon by the ACS chapter in Hattiesburg because the symbol is so recognizable to people, said Hernandez.

“The majority of people seem to know what the pink ribbon symbolizes,” she said. “The checker at the grocery store or the clerk at Dillard’s seem to always know what it means.”

The event begins at 5 p.m. Oct. 12 at Veterans Memorial Park. Entry fee is $15 with all funds going to the American Cancer Society for research and community programs.

A popular attraction at the Old Time Festival is the all-you-can-eat Trinity Episcopal Church Crawfish Boil — the group makes its first foray into the HUBfest with the first-annual shrimp boil on Front Street at the J. Ed Turner Building starting at 10:30 a.m.

Also new this year, The American Cancer Society is presenting the HUBfest Health Village in Veterans Memorial Park. Lillie Willis, cancer control project manager, hopes the event will allow festival-goers an opportunity to gain valuable health information and free health services from several local health care providers through interactive exhibits and screening tests and activities.

“The whole idea is to address the major health problems prevalent to our area. Obviously, we are interested in cancer awareness, early detection and treatment. However, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and our Mississippi Department of Health show that four related chronic illnesses, cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung diseases and diabetes, cause approximately 73% of all deaths in our state.” said Willis

Educational and advocacy groups such as the American Lung Association of Mississippi, Diabetic Foundation of Mississippi, American Heart Association — Southeast Affiliate have been invited to participate, as have area healthcare organizations such as Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources, Forrest General Hospital, Wesley Medical Center and South Central Regional Medical Center, among others.

Phillips said that a patriotic emphasis is building in the event in the wake of the recent disasters in New York City and Washington.

“ADP staff members were talking with the downtown merchants association about the festival in light of the events. We decided we would like the festival to act as a catalyst for support for the country as a whole,” said Phillips.

Organizers are partnering with the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association to display our nation’s colors in the downtown area.

“Like the rest of the country we have been deeply saddened by the tragic events that took place in New York and Washington. We want to continue to show our support for the victims and their families, our national leaders and our military as we face the challenges before us,” added Dunham

In addition to asking attendees to come dressed in patriotic colors, organizers will be handing out red, white and blue ribbons at the festival. Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association executive director Bernice Linton is encouraging all downtown businesses to participate in this effort.

“Many of the businesses downtown are displaying flags and ribbons at their entrances. We would like to see every business participate to show our solidarity in support for our country,” said Linton.

The American Red Cross will be on hand at the festival to provide information on ways individuals can offer their support. No donations will be taken at the event; however, information about volunteer training, programs and the disaster relief funds will be available, according to Babs Faulk of the Hattiesburg American Red Cross chapter. Faulk said the outpouring of generosity to victims of the disaster has been strong.

“The hardest thing is explaining to people who call us up to volunteer why we can’t send them to New York or Washington,” Faulk said.

HUBfest is always a good community service project for the chapter, said Faulk — the group provides watering stations for the pets who come as well as ice water for the festivalgoers as well.

Faulk hopes that more interest will be stimulated in local volunteerism after the disasters: “You can’t have not heard about Red Cross in the past two weeks.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer at Julie Whitehead at mbj@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.


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