Best of the Pinebelt

*** Best of the Pine Belt Finalist Voting Has Ended

FestivalSouth and Signature Magazine’s Best of the Pine Belt competition returns with a new schedule and some new categories for the area’s best and brightest. Nominations in all categories begin Monday, Jan. 15 and runs for three weeks until the evening of Sunday, Feb. 4. Finalist voting begins on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 and continues through April 30.

Once again, several key categories will be selected to be featured at the Best of the Pine Belt Awards Show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at the Saenger Theater. Those categories are selected from the nomination and finals voting process. All voting takes place at the official festival website

“We are always thrilled to see people take such an interest in promoting the best of our community,” said contest creator Dr. Mike Lopinto. “I hope interested companies and individuals will take advantage of the free promotional materials to help them get nominated and possibly win the title this year.”

Nominations are being sought in categories including everything from “Best Place to Take a First Date” to “Best Hamburger” and “Best Shoes” to “Best Volunteer.”

Last year, more than 450,000 unique votes created a guide to the Pine Belt’s favorite people, places and things that make the area great. Once again, the complete list of ‘best’ will be featured in the festival program that encompasses the June edition of Signature Magazine. This publication is made available at the conclusion of the awards show and then across the city in an extended circulation.

The Best of the Pine Belt Awards Show is a gala, red-carpet evening that was one of the highlights of last year’s FestivalSouth. Featuring special guests, awards presentations, live music and more, it is one of the hottest tickets of the festival.

“It’s a time for our area’s favorites to get dressed up and celebrate all the wonderful things that make the Pine Belt great,” said David Gustafson, publisher of Signature Magazine.

To nominate your favorite beginning Jan. 15, simply log on to and click on the Best of the Pine Belt. There, choose a category and write in nominations for as many categories as you like. Only one vote per IP address will be counted per day, so business and individuals that want to win will have to work hard to encourage their fans to vote for them.

“We fully expect this year’s contest to be bigger and better than ever before,” said Gustafson. “Spread the word and help us get ready for Hattiesburg’s biggest party!”

This project is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part,
from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.