Hometown Love

Here is an article written by my good friend, Rodney Sessions, about life in Petal.


I was born in the village of Rose Hill quite a few decades ago. My father was career military. My time spent living in this rural village with my grandparents depended on his deployment.  Some of my father’s assignments allowed for families, and some didn’t. I have lived all over the world, but I spent a significant portion of my formative years on my grandparents’ hilltop farm. Rose Hill will always be my hometown.  We moved into our current residence in Petal n 1989. Prior to that time, I had never lived in any house more than 3 years at a time. Twenty-nine years of living, working and forming wonderful relationships and friendships have made Petal my second hometown.

Petal is a small but growing town. Our schools are nationally recognized. We have an abundance of churches and houses of worship. A great Civic Center, municipal offices, Library, Veteran’s Memorial, and city park are focal points of downtown Petal.  Petal is blessed with several medical and dental clinics. I have had the same Petal family doctor for the past twenty-something years. I would not trade him for any big city doctor. He gives you sincere care and time. He and his team still practice the art of medicine as well as the science of medicine.

You will find numerous national chains and businesses in my hometown, but you just cannot beat the local businesses for down-home service. Petal has been called the “Friendly City”. I think the moniker is based on the caring, helpful, and supportive people you will meet everywhere you go in our town.  Petal was named by one national publication as the safest city in Mississippi. We have a wealth of great neighborhoods. Our recreational and youth sports facilities and play grounds are second to none for a city our size. My hometown is a wonderful place to raise children.

One of my favorite places in town is the Family Y, which is a wonderful place for people of all ages. We are also blessed with numerous other fitness centers and walking tracks. There are plenty of places to get in shape in Petal.  If you enjoy good food as much as I do, you will most certainly enjoy a wide and growing variety of over 20 great eating places in the “Friendly City”. I do enjoy coffee and coming up with solutions to all the world’s problems with my old Codger buddies each morning at our favorite breakfast hangout. I think every small town has a similar place for its old Codgers to gather.

The relatively new Petal River park has miles of woodland trails, mountain biking trails, and a nice new walking track. The city is planning a big Independence Day Celebration at this nice park along Leaf River.  Even though I have lived and traveled in big cities all over America and the world, I am a small town kinda guy at heart. If you prefer a larger city or need additional services, we have a nice one right across the river.

Petal suits me just fine. I am sure the people in Purvis, Richton, Sumrall, and other small towns in the Pine Belt Area feel the same way about their own hometowns. I would love to see some community columns about the uniqueness of each of these fine towns.

I believe the strength and vitality of our nation is built on small towns and hometowns all over America.


We are in the final stages of planning for the “Star Spangled Celebration on the River by Coca-Cola.” This seeds of this project started in July of 2017 during a discussion with Andrea Saffle, director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. Andrea and I (Valerie) were considering events that we could sponsor together to promote our cities and our organizations in a mutually beneficial way. “FIREWORKS!” Everyone loves fireworks! And so it began.

This event has taken on a life of its own. Thanks to our generous sponsors, Coca-Cola, The First, City of Petal, City of Hattiesburg and Forrest County Board of Supervisors we were able to launch the event and reach out to additional sponsors. On Tuesday, July 3 from 5:00-10:00 pm there will be live music, food vendors, kid’s inflatables, and more at the Petal River Park and Hattiesburg’s Chain Park, culminating in a grand fireworks display at 9:00.

Here are some practical suggestions to make your evening more enjoyable. There will be secure parking on the Petal side of the river at the old fairgrounds location for $5.00 (cash only) per vehicle. This will be the closest location to the event for parking. It may fill up quickly. It would be great if area churches would use their small buses to transport groups from the church parking lot to the park.

It will be HOT. There’s no way around it. Dress appropriately and don’t forget the sunscreen. The Petal River Park is on the river in the Deep South… there will be mosquitoes! Bring repellant if you want to ward off the nasty critters. Ice chests are allowed, however, it may be difficult to carry them from parking locations. We will have lots of food and beverage vendors in the park to handle your hunger and thirst! Small tents are acceptable but they will need to be taken down prior to the fireworks in order to allow great viewing for all guests. Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed and encouraged.

The Petal side of the river will be alcohol free. The Hattiesburg side will be selling beer. If that makes a difference, choose your side accordingly.

Most importantly, for this event to grow and become an annual tradition, we need to support it! Please support the sponsors and thank them! Support the vendors so they will come back. Support the volunteers, police, firefighters, and city personnel that are critical for success. Spread the word and enjoy the fireworks!

June Farmer’s Market

The first Farmer’s Market of the year was held on April 21 with over 35 vendors selling their wares. On May 19, the market had grown to over 50 vendors on site. The June Farmer’s Market will be held on June 16, the day before Father’s Day. This will be the largest market to date with vendors still signing up and will also feature an antique car show plus live entertainment.

In fact,  Central Avenue in front of the market will be closed to traffic to provide a safer and more enjoyable experience. The car show will be held in the parking lot in front of the Petal Middle School gymnasium and the market will be directly across the street. Special entertainment for the kids, and the young at heart, will feature Unkle Hokum and band. Feel free to bring a lawn chair to enjoy the concert.

It’s exciting to see so many people in downtown Petal enjoying the market and the experience. It’s our hope that the market will continue to grow and flourish. Special thanks goes to Tabitha Burden of Grand Central Outfitters for opening her doors, literally, to help organize the market. More thanks to Charlotte Ford of Laughing Doves Farm for her expertise and help organizing. And, many thanks to the volunteers from the Petal Jaycees for their help every week. Rev. Bill Burk of Calvary Baptist Church, thank you for your help. Most importantly, thanks to the City of Petal, Mayor Marx, the Petal Aldermen, Police and Fire Departments, Recreation Dept. and Street Department for their support.