Sip and Shop in downtown Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs is home to many unique, local boutiques, but it can be difficult to check them out when they are only open while you’re at work. Well, your chance is coming up thanks to Third Thursdays Sip & Shop.

Sip & Shop is a monthly event in downtown Ocean Springs when various downtown establishments stay open “after hours,” usually 5-8 p.m.

Many offer refreshments and specials, encouraging you to make a night of things. It’s a fun way to explore downtown Ocean Springs while getting to unwind after a long day of work. 

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Shearwater Pottery stays alive in Ocean Springs

One of the unique forms of art that calls Jackson County home is Shearwater Pottery, which has continued through the ages thanks to the Anderson family.

“[Shearwater Pottery] was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson, and Peter founded the pottering doing throwing and glaze ware,” explained Business Manager Beth Ashley. “Then a couple years later his brothers Walter and Mac joined. They designed figurines and decorated pots. We continue on as a family today to make pottery.”

According to the business’s website, Shearwater Pottery is crafted using two distinct clay bodies. First, a white bodied clay from Tennessee is used to create “underglaze” castware. The cast pieces are hand painted or originally decorated. A buff bodied clay made largely from clay obtained from local Mississippi and Alabama sources is used to create thrown, jiggered or cast pieces, and, unless decorated, is glazed with one of Shearwater’s unique glazes.

“We continue to do Walter and Mac figurines, and we have younger generations doing their own decorative ware,” Ashley said. Three of Peter’s four children are still active in the ongoing production of Shearwater Pottery.

Establishments like Shearwater Pottery help continue Jackson County’s artistic history.

“My great-grandmother always wanted to see an art colony on the Coast,” Ashley said. “She had bought this property in 1917 with that kind of goal in mind, so I think it has become an art colony, especially our Ocean Springs community, but in general Jackson County. I think having a business like this go back that long has encouraged other artists as well.”

For anyone interested in Shearwater Pottery, check out the products and workshop at 102 Shearwater Drive in Ocean Springs.

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Museum preserves nationally-celebrated artwork

Tucked away on Washington Avenue in downtown Ocean Springs is the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, one of the many celebrations of Jackson County’s influencers.

According to the museum’s website, Walter Inglis Anderson is celebrated as an American master, whose depictions of the plants, animals, and people of the Gulf Coast have placed him among the foremost of American painters of the 20th Century.

“Here we preserve the works of Walter and his two brothers, Mac and Peter,” said WAMA Director of Development Corey Christie. “I’d say about 90 percent of the museum collection is made up of Walter’s works, but we also host other artists that are in line with his work.”

Currently, the museum is also housing the works of Memphis College of Art students, faculty and alumni. For the past three decades, the group has taken a summer trip to Horn Island in search of inspiration for their art, much in the same way Walter Anderson did during his lifetime.

“It’s a new way of seeing what he might have done were he alive today,” Christie said.

With Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast especially, home to so many notable artists, preserving the works of the Anderson family is a way to keep a part of the city’s history alive.

“Ocean Springs is kind of an art town, and this is kind of where it started,” Christie said. “Not only does the museum preserve the artwork, but it is an asset for the local economy as well. People come from all over the visit the museum, but when they visit, that’s not all they do here. They’ll stay in the hotels or eat at the local restaurants.”

The museum is sponsored by Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, Paddles Up, Jackson County, Ocean Springs Live and Alexander, Van Loon, Sloan, Levens & Favre accounting.

Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. For more details, visit their website.

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Diners offered challenge in Culinary Passport

Ocean Springs offers a variety of restaurants, and now diners have the opportunity to be rewarded for eating out thanks to the Ocean Springs Culinary Passport. 

The concept is simple: pick up a passport at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. Spend $10 on food and drink at a participating Ocean Springs eatery (marked with a window decal) to get your passport stamped. After collecting 10 stamps from 10 different participating establishments, drop off or mail the passport to the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce to receive a free gift and be entered for a prize.

“This is the first time to provide a culinary passport in Ocean Springs,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “I have been part of other passport programs from the Heritage Trust stamp to the National Park service passport stamp, so it helped to give me the idea for something similar to showcase and continually promote and publicize our local restaurants and nightlife venues in Ocean Springs.”

The current passports are valid for an entire year, allowing anyone to participate in the program, from a family is stopping in for a vacation and need to know where to eat to an Ocean Springs resident who has trouble deciding what to have for dinner.

“It is a great way to get more exposure and publicity for their individual businesses,” Sutton said. “If locals and travelers know they are going to be rewarded, then it incentivizes folks to eat with us in Ocean Springs. Also, it is a fun tool to get out and challenge yourself to complete the project.”

Participants are also able to share their dining experiences on social media through #osculinarypassport, allowing the perfect opportunity to discover the diverse range of culinary experiences Ocean Springs has to offer.

For more information about participating restaurants, visit the Culinary Passport website.

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Fishing rodeo goes on despite rainy weather

Click the gallery above to view larger.

Even though the first weekend of June wasn’t met with the most ideal weather, that did not stop local fishers from coming out to the Ocean Springs Marine Mart Fishing Rodeo.

The two-day tournament ran Saturday and Sunday, and fishing began first thing Saturday morning.

“We have two different divisions for this tournament,” said Kenny Deniro, tournament director.” We have the offshore division, which involves Cobia and Red Snapper. The in-shore division has Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Flounder and Blackfish.”

The event wasn’t exclusive to competitors, as there was also live music, food and drink offered for anyone just wanting to see the fish and feel like part of the community.

“This is a good economic driver and an old-fashioned way of getting the community together,” said Jim Franks. Franks works at the Gulf Coast Research Lab with the University of Southern Mississippi and served as the Weigh Master at the tournament. “Everyone is interested in fish, so this is good all around for Jackson County.” Franks has served as weigh master for similar events for 30 years.

Winners, announced Sunday evening, were Tomas Pojer for Cobia, Jerry Plaskett for Red Snapper, Todd Lipps Jr. for Black Fish, Donnie Bosarge for Speckled Trout, Jeffery Waltman for Red Fish, and Aaron Chu for Flounder. 

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Ocean Springs holds annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival

June is the beginning of blueberry season, so there is no better way to spend the first Saturday in June than to enjoy the annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival in downtown Ocean Springs.

“We have it every June here in downtown, and what it is, we partner with the Ocean Springs Fresh Market,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “They beef up the vendors. We have blueberry growers, we have blueberry lemonade out here. We have all kinds of other good stuff. Then, courtesy of the Chamber, we give away free vanilla ice cream topped with blueberries from the vendors and strawberries. In addition to all of that, we have some cooking demonstrations out and here and some talks from the master gardeners, so it’s a fun day.”

Mixed amongst the usual Fresh Market vendors selling local produce, baked goods, and homemade crafts were tents specializing in blueberry treats, from fresh fruit to blueberry lemonade, a drink that was a welcome refreshment to the afternoon humidity caused by the morning showers. While it did rain during the festival, that did not seem to scare away any customers.

“The rain hasn’t kept anybody away,” Sutton said. “It has been amazing. I can’t tell you how many cups of ice cream we’ve given out so far, but the line has gone halfway through the fresh market, so it’s been a great turn out.”

During the festival, a shower did make an appearance, but that did not drive customers away. Knowing South Mississippi weather, some attendees took shelter from the rain under the train depot awning, choosing to wait 10 minutes for the sun to come back out. Some visitors simply pulled out their umbrellas, and others just walked through the rain completely unfazed and determined to get some good deals on some local goods. A few children even took the opportunity to splash in some puddles.

Other blueberry offerings included jams, blueberry baked goods and even a blueberry-pepper jelly, unique yet deliciously sweet and spicy offering from The Grumpy Man out of Purvis.

Visitors of all ages, from retirees looking for a fun weekend event and ways to supplement their home gardens to new parents needing a chance to get out of the house and also expose their young children to healthy eating at an early age, took the opportunity for experience this annual event as welcome to the summer season and get them exploring downtown Ocean Springs.

For anyone that might have missed the Red, White & Blueberry Festival, the Fresh Market will continue in Ocean Springs every Saturday, and with blueberry season still in its infancy, there is sure to be no shortage of blueberry offerings in the weeks to come.

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Mary C. to host ‘Old-Fashioned Political Rally’

The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Arts Center will host a political rally for all Ocean Springs municipal candidates June 3, three days ahead of the June 6 general election.

“This event is planned to mirror an experience similar to the old-fashioned stump speeches similar to The Neshoba County Fair,” said Stacy Howell, executive director of the Mary C.

This event will also serve as a fundraiser for the Mary C. While the original plan was to have a fish fry with plates for sale for $10, the expected inclement weather has changed plans.

“Due to the weather, we have had to move it inside, and we are having pulled pork plates, as they are easier to work with,” Howell explained. 

There will also be live entertainment provided by The Tall Boys.

“It should be a lot of fun and a great afternoon to learn more about the candidates, while raising money for our beloved Mary C.,” said Vicki Applewhite, a member of the Mary C. O’Keefe board of directors and co-chairman of the event.

The event will run from 3-5 p.m. Candidates will each be given five minutes to “stump” for votes.

The event, billed as an “Old-Fashioned Political Rally & Fish Fry” will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the front lawn of the Mary C. During the event, candidates will each be given five minutes to “stump” for votes.

“The goal of this event is to raise funds for The Mary C. and to showcase all of the candidates to the community in a fun and positive way,” Howell said. “It brings us together as a community and it educates us on the issues of the day.”

 

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Ocean Springs woman works to end hunger in community

Hunger is a problem for Mississippians, with ore than 20 percent of residents do not have consistent access to nutritious food. 

Some people can’t afford food. Some people aren’t able to get to the store to purchase food. People facing food insecurities are grateful for places like The Lord Is My Help soup kitchen in downtown Ocean Springs, and its founder Kay Woods.

After working with the Peace Corps for three years, Woods was asked to assemble a group from many diversified occupations to create a project that would benefit local citizens in need as her final project.

“We had a lot of meetings to discuss what was needed, and we felt like the community needed a soup kitchen for the elderly and shut-ins and the homeless,” Woods explained. “At that time, fruit pickers went through town on their way to Florida with their whole families, so they also needed a place to eat while in town.”

In 1983, Woods brought together the first group of volunteers to establish The Lord Is My Help.

“Churches got involved and we had a local building donated to us to serve as the soup kitchen, ” Woods recalled. It was a definite need in the community. People on social security got so little that they couldn’t leave decently on what they received. Even in the early days, we served a lot more people than you could imagine.”

From the very beginning, The Lord Is My Help assisted many of those in need through multiple facets.

“We were only supposed to last three years because we got the building donated for temporary use,” Woods said. “The first day we opened we didn’t even have a stove. The local ladies brought crock pots full of food. That first day 20 people came for lunch, and we though that was a lot. Now we serve up to 250 meals a day. Through the years we also had a job bank through an employment agency in Biloxi to help find jobs for people. We also formed a clothing bank. St. Alphonsus Catholic Church donated the building for that, but it had to be torn down. It wasn’t restored because by that time the Salvation Army was established here. We used to be able to give gas money to help with travel but as more things came into place, we had to keep putting more effort into our pantry and soup kitchen. We used to actually help with doctor’s appointments, but we can’t do that anymore. We have too many people to feed now.”

With the volume of meals prepared daily by The Lord Is My Help, it may be heard to believe that out of everyone that puts in time with the organization, only people are actually paid for their work.

“We only have two paid employees, our cook and general manager,” Woods explained. “We pay them because they have to be there every day, and we have to count on them 100 percent. However, the rest of the organization is run by volunteers. We’ve never even paid the director. A lot of local churches donate money, but now we do have to pay rent and utilities on our building, so it takes a lot of money to keep everything running.”

A group of young adults in the community saw the need to financially assist The Lord Is My Help, so they came together to create Feed the Need.

“It’s made up people 18-38 years old that meet once a week all throughout the year just to plan one large event to raise money for our soup kitchen,” Woods said. ” They are their own group, but do have a liaison on our board. They are just young people that decided to help support us. In the first year they raised $8,000. Last year they raised $22,000, and we needed at that because expenses are so high, we do have collection jars in different businesses to help as well.”

Today, 30 years after Woods first established The Lord Is My Help, the overall goal of the organization has not waivered. 

“We just want to help people,” Woods said. “Besides feeding people through the soup kitchen or delivering meals, we also have an emergency pantry. It might help people who are on food stamps or a single woman with a large family. Many of the other facilities like ours are in Pascagoula, and that kind of commute can be difficult for some. We want to be here to help the community.”

For anyone in need, the doors to the soup kitchen open at 6a.m., offering cereal, donuts and coffee for breakfast. A hot lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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Local shop a must-visit for Donut Day

The first Friday in June is annually observed as National Donut Day, and for residents of Jackson County, there is no better place for donuts than Tato-Nut Donut Shop.

Situated in a small yellow building on the corner of Government Street and Kotzum Avenue in downtown Ocean Springs is a business that has been open so long and become so iconic, it has practically reached landmark status. Today, Tato-Nut is lead by owners David and Theresa Mohler.

“My husband’s father [Robert] opened a donut shop back in 1960 called Spud Nut, ” Theresa recalled. “In the early 1970s that dissipated, so they kind of changed the recipe they had been working with and soon after opened Tato-Nut.”

Theresa has been involved with the business since 1988, and involved does not just simply mean as a co-owner.

“We are involved in every aspected of the business,” Theresa explained. “We mix every batch of dough, make all of the glaze and make all of the chocolate the goes on the donuts. We arrive every morning around 2 a.m. to get everything ready to open.”

While it may be a Jackson County original, Tato-Nut is becoming known far and wide throughout the Southeast, and even internationally.

“When we travel, like to Mobile, people know about Tato-Nut,” Theresa said. “We’ll be in Florida or we’ll be in some other place and people have heard of the shop. We actually went up to Ole Miss not too long ago to move our daughter in and people up there even knew about us. I think social media is kind of helping to spread the word. We’ll have people who are in the military that were stationed on the Gulf Coast for awhile and they got to visit and then they will be stationed in Japan and they still keep up with us on social media. We’ll put something and they will comment saying they wish they could get some donuts. People from out of town will come have a visit to our shop on their to-do list for their trip here.”

Being such a staple of the community is something the Mohlers do not take lightly.

“It’s a huge honor. It’s why we get up in the morning,” Theresa said. “We have become part of people’s traditions and, in a way, part of their families. It is a huge honor, but it is also a huge obligation to make sure we maintain that quality, so it is a double-edged sword.”

The Mohlers also make sure to give back to the community that has shown them so much appreciation through donations to the Ronald McDonald House as well as donating the day’s leftovers to the local soup kitchen The Lord is My Help, located just blocks away from the shop.

So what is behind the success of Tato-Nut? Some might say it’s the unique recipe for these particular donuts, but Theresa Mohler has a different idea.

“We do add potatoes to our donuts, but I like to say that they taste the love,” she said. “You taste that we had a hand in everything that goes out of our front door.”

In honor of National Donut Day, Tato-Nut will offer a free coffee with any purchase on June 2, 2017.

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Developers hold condominium groundbreaking

The groundbreaking for a new mixed-used development was held Thursday afternoon in Ocean Springs.

Inlet will be located between Bienville Boulevard and the Old For Bayou Coastal Preserve, and is planned to house 95 condominiums and roughly 18,000 square feet of space for commercial or community amenities.

“The location [of Inlet] offers a great proximity to the great school system Ocean Springs has, downtown, and the hospital,” said Walker Thrash, one of the lead developers of Inlet.

Plans include having 34 one-bedroom, 48 two-bedroom, and 13 three-bedroom units, offering options for everyone from the young single professional to the family creating a home.

“Nationally, condominiums are a growing trend, so it’s taken a little bit to reach the Southeast,” Thrash explained. “But condo developments are on the rise, so this will be a great addition to Ocean Springs.”

With attendees such as Mayor Connie Moran, numerous alderman and representatives from the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, it is clear there is a lot of excitement surrounding this new addition to Jackson County. 

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