Crowds knew when it was lunch time as they gather around food vendors stationed along Oak Street.

Loblolly Festival: What you need to know

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year — Loblolly Festival.

“This year’s festival is one you won’t soon forget,” organizers wrote. “The Loblolly Festival is one of Laurel’s biggest events, with more than 12,000 people attending annually, so lace up your walking shoes, it’s festival time!

Leader-Call subscribers will find inside today’s newspaper a handy six-panel all-inclusive guide to the festival. A limited number of guides will be available throughout the festival as well.

The following are a list of tips for festival-goers.

Beat the crowds

The festival officially starts at 9 a.m., so if you want to get first pick of the merchandise or avoid the crowds, come early.

Cookbooks galore

Have you heard the buzz about the cookbook “A Taste of Home Town”? The excitement is gripping the state and you can be a part of it, especially with the holiday season approaching. These beautiful one-of-a-kind books will be available at the “Taste of Home Town” table in front of the Leader-Call building at 318 N. Magnolia St. A few staff members and contributors to the book will be stopping by periodically for autographs.

Get a T-shirt

while you can

Stop by the Laurel Main Street trailer, which will be stationed on West Oak St., and purchase a commemorative Laurel Main Street 10-year anniversary T-shirt or a Loblolly Festival T-shirt.  Make this one of your first stops because these shirts will go fast.

Wear walking shoes

Loblolly Festival covers almost all of the central business district of downtown Laurel and includes more than 120 vendors, crafters, performers and activities.

You’re bound to see a lot of people you know and some you forgot you knew.

Check the map 

and schedule

When you arrive, be sure to pick up a map. If you’re a strategic shopper, this will definitely make it easier for you to find any specific vendors you came to see.

Bring cash

Some vendors accept credit cards, but not all do. There is an ATM located downtown at the Laurel Welcome Center inside the old First National Bank building.

Check the weather

Loblolly Festival is a rain-or-shine event so check the weather and dress accordingly. The Laurel YWCO will be open and available to the community from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the Loblolly Festival. Come in to cool off and enjoy lunch in the tea room.

Carrie Cullum of Laurel Main Street contributed to this report.