Soup'er Mudfest Second Saturday Artwalk
- story by Grace Birch/Ellis Anderson, photos by Ellis Anderson
The “Souper Mudfest Second Saturday" - one of the most popular events of the year in Bay St. Louis - will take place March 12th, rain or shine. Bowls handcrafted by more than a dozen local potters are sold for $20 each. Bowl-buyers are provided with a list of local merchants where they’ll be able to sample gourmet soups throughout the evening - for free!
Usually, the bowls are sold at a large tent set up on the town green at Main and Second Streets. This year, the sales will take place indoors at the fellowship hall, of the Main Street United Methodist Church, also on the corner of Main and Second Streets (162 Main Street). You'll see plenty of signage directing you!
Organizers note that the bowls sell out very quickly and advise arriving early to purchase one. Sales begin at 3:30. The event is held annually as a benefit for the Hancock County Food Pantry, Hancock County Tourism and the Old Town Merchants Association.
Second Saturday Column
One highlight of every Second Saturday Artwalk are the monthly "Hot Spots," This month the spotlight falls on Fashion Express, 126 Main Street and the Starfish Café, 211 Main Street.
126 Main Street
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
Jean Ann’s Fashion Express will be celebrating with great food and the Renegade Band will be entertaining on the sidewalk at 126 Main from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Jean Ann Thriffiley’s shop of ladies’ treasures, located near the front entrance of 126 Main Street, has turned into a unique point of interest for locals and tourists alike. Many first-time shoppers have become longtime friends with Jean Ann and other Main Street merchants, coming back time and time again to visit, having fallen in love with Bay St. Louis.
Jean Ann’s new spot features classic favorites including a lovely collection of designer Swarovski crystals by Victoria Lynn of Gulfport and Victoria Cross of Hattiesburg. Aluminum earrings and wrap bracelets by Novi of Laurel, Mississippi are standouts among the sea of sterling silver, sea glass, and costume jewelry.
Clearly Jean Ann’s Fashion Express is a mecca of Mississippi-made items, including her latest arrival of men’s shirts with colorful prints designed in-state. Fashion Express also features USA-made ladies apparel, including yoga slacks and capri pants of various colors in all sizes. Cactus Bay tops, scarves and collections by Ronnie Salloway are just a few of the highlights of her offerings. Get ready to hit the beach with sealife-printed cotton dresses by LuLu-B and Pretty Woman pieces with more fun, summertime designs to come.
Chances are you’ll find the perfect gift for you or a loved one at Fashion Express. If not, one of the many shops in 126 Main will fill your needs. Right next to Fashion Express is Melissa Hamilton’s Bijoubel and The Shoe Boutique by Joyce Whitfield.
“We compliment each other and get along like family!” said Jean Ann of her fellow store owners. “Folks are amazed when entering our building, seeing shops of such diversity.”
As a veteran merchant, Jean Ann’s passion for Bay St. Louis shines. Not only does she help costumers find the perfect purchase, but she thrives on giving Gulf Coast visitors the total experience of Old Town Bay St. Louis by recommending restaurants, accommodations, and neighboring shops and attractions.
“Our merchants are working hard and it is wonderful to be able to inform folks of upcoming events and free things they can do around town year-round, like visiting the Hancock County Historical Society, the Mardi Gras Museum and the Alice Moseley Museum,” Thriffiley said. “Folks seem to leave with a sweet taste and want to come back for the love of our quaint community.”
It’s no wonder Bay St. Louis was recently voted one of the “Best Places in the South” by Southern Living Magazine. The future of Bay St. Louis is bright thanks to pillars of the community like Thriffiley, but to know where you are going as a city, it’s important to understand and honor the history, as well.
In 1985, Nadine and Dick Stamm of Nadic Arts and Jerry Dixon of Serenity Art Gallery set up shop in the first hundred block of Main Street and established the art colony in Old Town Bay St. Louis. Antique stores followed. “People still ask about Ms. Metta and Mrs. Cummings today,” Jean Ann said.
In the early ‘90s Jerry Dixon and talented local artists initiated the very first Second Saturday Art Walk in Old Town. Through it all, Jean Ann and Jim Thriffiley supported the efforts being made to make Bay St. Louis “A Place Apart.”
Thriffiley has faced her own challenges, but always continued to be a part of the Old Town Bay St. Louis merchants. In 2001, her business was located at 100 N. Beach Blvd. in the Magnolia Building. The business was lost to a fire and then again by Katrina in 2005, yet her love for Old Town never wavered. In fact, these were all motivations for her present location at 126 Main St. in Maggie May’s, which she moved into just 13 months after Katrina.
“It is a spirit thing for me to help Old Town come back the way it was,” said Thriffiley. “Fortunately, my goal has been met with the support of all our hard working merchants and loyal customers. It is especially gratifying that many merchants have purchased their own buildings, which results in genuine stability for the community. Bay St. Louis is growing bigger and better than ever.”
In celebration of her 22nd business anniversary, Thriffiley would like to especially thank Mrs. Myrna Green and her staff at Hancock County Tourism for their assistance and all they do for the Gulf Coast community. She also commended Mrs. Bobbie Tate and staff at the Mississippi Hancock County Welcome Center for directing so many tourists to Bay St. Louis.
211 Main Street
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
228 - 229 - 3503
“Fresh and local; that’s our deal,” beams Di Fillhart, Starfish Café owner.
The Starfish Cafe supports local businesses like Honestly Beef in Collin, Mississippi, and shops locally in Bay St. Louis at Claiborne Market and Froogle’s.
“We have a standard menu, but also daily specials that reflect what’s good regionally, Fillhart said. “We also grow as much as we can: cucumber, tomato, zucchini, herbs, winter cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts...”
The menu features soups, pastas, burgers, salads, sandwiches, desserts and more. There’s a special section for children, low calorie options, and visitors can request special items if they are gluten-free.
Patrons of the Starfish Cafe appreciate how bright and cheerful the decor is, inside and out. Crops grow happily along the pathway leading to the dining room and the calming blue building stands out on Main Street with handmade, brightly decorated garden boxes for homegrown herbs.
“We try to keep our environmental footprint the size of a baby bootie,” Fillhart laughs.
From the start, visitors feel good. Starfish Cafe is a place of happiness and healing.
“Food is so important to our health,” Fillhart said, sitting in her sun-filled dining room. “In many ways, there’s no better medicine than fresh locally grown food, and we have that right here. Our motto is ‘Wellness for a Lifetime.’”
Starfish Cafe makes sure everyone in the community has access to healthy food. In fact, the customers set their own prices.
“Pay what you want for your meal,” Fillhart said. “I’ve dedicated my life to ministry and I know whatever you get donated, you can make that work.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Fillhart was 14 when she worked in her first restaurant. Her son Zac, formally a chef at the Sycamore House, moved to the Bay to be close to his mom and help with her efforts. Zac is now the executive chef at Starfish Cafe.
“Zac was so young when he started cooking he had to stand on a potato box,” Fillhart laughed. “He was helping right beside me at a church camp.”
Fillhart was working in Brooklyn doing street ministry when Hurricane Katrina hit. She came to the Gulf Coast just 10 days after the storm to assist with disaster relief with a friend. They called their mission “Operation Starfish” inspired by the popular starfish story by Loren Eiseley and the sentiment of “I made a difference for that one.”
Operation Starfish connected with City Team, who directed them to Bay St. Louis. These deep connections, especially with St. Rose de Lima Church, have kept Fillhart here and the starfish mission continues to grow and evolve.
Starfish Cafe opened on June 5, 2013, and has made a big impact on the community ever since. Not only does Fillhart’s team nourish the body, they make it their mission to educate and train those who need jobs.