Second Saturday Artwalk in Old Town
Second Saturday Column
|The Shoofly Magazine||
Second Saturday Artwalk in Old Town
Second Saturday Column
Over the past twenty years, the monthly artwalk has become one of the most popular events in the region. Old Town stays lively all day, with many merchants and restaurants offering specials. The pace picks up from 4 – 8pm, when gallery openings and live music keep the streets humming with activity.
Each month, one or two Old Town businesses take the spotlight as “Hot Spots." Veteran Second Saturday patrons know these will be among the liveliest places to be during the event.
Story and photography by Ellis Anderson
The December Second Saturday Artwalk in Bay St. Louis is traditionally the liveliest of the year-long series of events. On December 13th, from 4pm – 8pm, the sounds of familiar carols, the smell of fresh baked treats, and the laughter of giddy children in Old Town will blend to make the evening seem like a happy illustration from a Dr. Suess book.
But it’s no illusion. Bay St. Louis offers the authentic holiday experience, and even the Grinch himself wouldn’t be able to dampen spirits. Old Town will be lively all day, with a full slate of events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bay St. Louis. There’ll be a reenactment, a veterans’ parade, schooner tours and fireworks. From 4pm – 8pm merchants and galleries offer new art exhibits, refreshments and shop specials. During the holidays, enormous snowflake lights glow from the branches of live oaks, creating the illusion of a winter wonderland - even if the weather is warm enough for shirt-sleeves.
This month’s Second Saturday theme is “Shop Small.” Statistics repeatedly prove the many benefits of supporting local businesses. One study shows that for every $100 spent in local stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.
The two featured “Hot Spot” businesses for December are perfect examples of small family enterprises that have become Bay St. Louis icons, thanks to support from out-of-town visitors and loyal local customers.
December Hot Spots
The Mockingbird Cafe
110 S. Second St.
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
Gourmet coffee, Lazy Magnolia brews, Mockingburgers, local art
The Mockingbird Café is always one of the first stops for people visiting Bay St. Louis. Usually they were commanded to go there by some friendly. Or they may have read about the Mockingbird in Southern Living (it’s been featured there several times) or some other national publication.
Visitors can always find interesting locals willing to converse in the lively café. On any given day, you’re likely to find college students who have stumbled on the Bay during their travels, scientists who work at Stennis Space Center, day-trippers from New Orleans and beyond, kids from the nearby schools and lots of artists and writers. The mix of people is as irresistible as the food and beverages served up by smiling baristas. The Mockingbird’s affectionate nickname is “The Town’s Living Room,” and it is.
The owner is best known as Alicein Wonderland, which are her real first and middle names ("hippie parents, you know"). The fairy tale name suits her effervescent personality, which has an underpinning of steely determination. She needed it after Katrina, when as a new mother, she and her former husband opened the café in 2006 in the midst of the carnage left by the storm.
“There was a need for a gathering place for the town to heal, a loving and hopeful spot,” Alicein says.
Alicein, who grew up in Bay St. Louis, has traveled “far and wide,” and believes this has impacted her worldview. And along the way, she’s always gathering ideas to improve the Mockingbird. Which is hardly “just” a coffeehouse. It’s also an art gallery, featuring local artistic icons like J.J. Foley and Kat Fitzpatrick. And it’s a music venue, featuring some top quality artists, as well as locals who gather for open mike nights.
“We’ve been fortunate to get bigger name performers on their way to places like the House of Blues in New Orleans. In musician circles, we’ve become known as a homey spot to perform, since our audiences are always welcoming and receptive.”
In the past year, with chef Julie Ragusa coming aboard, the kitchen is bursting with fresh ideas and the menu is leaning heavily toward farm-to-table dishes. Ragusa worked as a chef and a chocolatier in Belgium for many years, so the confections coming out of the kitchen are gourmet quality. In addition to the “world-famous Mockingburger,” fresh sandwiches and scrumptious breakfasts, look for crème brulet, Café Vienna muffins, Lemon Feta Shortbread cookies and chocolate mousse. You can order up every kind of beverage from an expresso to a locally brewed craft beer.
The town’s living room also serves as a starting point for a running club on Thursday nights, just another example of how this business has become a central part of the community
“We’re all pieces of the big puzzle, working to make our town loved and successful,” says Alicein. “Our philosophy at the Mockingbird is that kindness is the most important thing.”
Serious Bread Bakery
Handmade artisan breads & sweet things - scones, cookies, & muffins
131 Main Street, Suite D
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
At the Serious Bread Bakery, the irresistible scent of fresh-baked loaves lures people in through the classic screen door. Once inside, the new cafe area offers a menu with several new items like tabouli and hummus, as well as a selection of sweets that will have your mouth watering. Best of all, they serve samples, although be warned: the samples simply make it harder to choose.
Al Jensen is a retired oceanographer who traveled around the world during his career, sampling breads in every country he visited. Frustrated by the lack of artisan breads on the coast, this staff-of-life connoisseur later decided to solve the problem by becoming a baker himself.
Jensen pursued his new vocation “seriously.” After several workshops with a world-renowned baker in Vermont, he and his wife Vivian began selling the loaves in regional farmers markets, finding that their offerings were snapped up by a public hungry for more.
The Jensens stay busy: they opened the Serious Bread Bakery nearly three years ago, beginning with the bakery and expanding into a coffee/sandwich shop next door to feature their baked goods. The pair creates seasonal and specialty breads (including challah and Irish soda bread) - in addition to the nine different types offered regularly.
Recently, they’ve added banana-nut muffins, peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip scones. The different varieties of scones have become sought-after staples - Vivian says that they usually bake and sell over 400 each weekend. They also serve tabouli, hummus and other spreads in the cafe.
“We like our city and most of all, we enjoy our customers,” says Al “The Breadman” Jensen.
During Second Saturday, Kay Sones and her family band will be performing Americana Music from 4 - 8pm. Of course, there will be samplings of different breads.
Second Saturday Happenings
Bay Books - 131 Main Street
George Thatcher will be signing his latest book Beach Verses from 12:00-2:00
Bay Emporium - 112 S. Second Street - Jim and Crawford Bankston from Brandon demonstrating the dramatic art of lamp-worked bead-making using a torch and molten glass. They will show and sell their unique handmade jewelry by Mississippi artists.
Bay Town Inn - 208 North Beach
In December, Old Town shops are open till 8pm on Thursday. So - call the Bay Town Inn for our Christmas Special - $119 - you'll enjoy it so much, you'll want to re-book for a Second Saturday weekend!
California Drawstrings - 216 Main Street - $20.00 off any purchase of 100.00 more ( before sales tax) on Second Saturday. Purchase on non-sale items only. One discount only per person.
Flair - 112 S. Second St. inside Bay Emporium - Introduce a little “Flair” into your holidays with this distinctive shop inside Bay Emporium. Brilliant gift ideas, glittery wearables, and stylish home décor fill this fun and fancy collection.
George’s Girls - 108 S. Beach Blvd. Ste B, (inside the French Settlement building). Purveyors of Fine Linens. Last minute gift needs, from shaving essentials and whiskey stones for men to jewelry and luxury sleep wear for women. Quite a few items from Oprah's favorite things list!
Gallery 220 Main - 220 Main Street - Come in and check out new work by featured artists Regan Carney and Mark Busziewicz. This artist's co-op is home to nearly two dozen artists and is THE PLACE TO BE on any Second Saturday! Free refreshments as well as a buffet of appetizers, courtesy the artists!
Fashion Express - Down the long hall at Maggie May’s Art Gallery (126 Main Street), Swarovski crystal collections by Victoria Lynn and Victoria Cross in an array of stunning colors, great for holidays, complimentary
The French Potager - 213 Main Street - Stop by The French Potager and check out our wonderful selection of antiques, gifts, flowers, and books!
Magnolia Antiques - 200 Main Street - Magnolia Antiques at 200 Main Street is your center for collectibles and curiosities. We'll be serving our famous meatballs!
The Mockingbird Cafe - 110 South Second St.
Music by Cross Ties from 6-9. Artists Connie Rainey and Lynn Harris will be showing, joining regulars Marsha Prejean, Kat Fitzpatrick, Diane Chunn, Sue Louvier and J.J. Foley. Local brews and dinner menu with famous Mockingburgers.
Social Chair - 201 Main St. - Mississippi state pride is all around us and. Social Chair has started the celebration. We always welcome all of our "LOYAL LOCALS" to get first dibs on our holiday merchandise. The trees are going up and we are ready to gift wrap all of your purchases for FREE. New lines of Mississippi State & Ole Miss comfort color shirts and Mississippi made goat milk soap.
Time After Time Antiques (Inside Century Hall), 112 S. Second St.
Offering a unique array of antiques, furniture from different eras, collectibles, and home decor. Between the hours of 4PM and 8PM we offer 20% off furniture. Our selection changes monthly, so come see us. We also carry the holiday line of Swan Creek Candles.
Twin Lights Creations - 136 Main Street Eclectic garden & home décor. Hand made Christmas garden art that will put you in the mood for the season. Shop early and enjoy the elements of nature, inside and out.