Downtown Jackson, 601-948-0888, http://www.halandmals.com/Parade.html
When someone first said the words Mal's St. Paddy's Parade to me, I must admit I had never heard of it. So my first parade was a special treat. My son and I had the opportunity to walk in the parade with the JFP's Too Live Crew spearheaded by the feisty Josh Hailey.
The parade started in 1983 by Malcolm White, co-owner of Hal & Mal's and now director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. He was looking for a way to bring Jacksonians together to "embrace and celebrate this wacky, fun-loving rite of spring, vaguely St. Patrick's Day, Mardi Gras-like third-weekend-in-March occasion and claim it as it's very own."
The weekend festival has attracted more than 60,000 revelers and boosted more than $7 million into the local economy. It isn't just fun and games: It also raises money for the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. The 30th Annual Mal's St. Paddy's Parade is March 17. If you're interested in entering a float, applications are accepted through Feb. 13. Come one, come all; it's going to be one heck of a party!
Best Annual Event
Second: Mistletoe Marketplace (Mississippi Trade Mart, 1200 Mississippi St., 601-948-2357)
Third: Chimneyville Crafts Festival (Mississippi Trade Mart, 1200 Mississippi St., 601-856-7546)
Good Showing: CelticFest (http://www.celticfestms.org); Wellsfest (http://www.wellschurch.org); Fondren Unwrapped (Fondren neighborhood, 601-981-9606)
Best Outdoor Event
Second: Pepsi Pops (Old Trace Park, Post Road, Ridgeland, 601-960-1565)
Third: Wellsfest (http://www.wellschurch.org)
Good Showing: CelticFest (http://www.celticfestms.org); Jacktoberfest (http://www.jacktoberfest.com); Fondren After 5 (http://www.fondren.org/fondren_after_5)
Best Beauty Shop or Salon: Barnette's Salon
4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123, http://www.barnettessalon.com
I've had a few bad haircuts, bad stylists and horrible dye jobs throughout the years, and I blame myself because I knew better than to stray from Barnette's Salon. The salon, owned by husband-and-wife team Ralph and Susan Barnette, has been a favorite for years. It was the only salon in the state to be one of Elle Magazine's Top 100 Salons in 2011. The staff is not only friendly and professional, but also immensely talented, consisting of some of the top stylists in town. To top it off, the whole place is filled with the scent of Aveda products, which in my book, is probably the best scent in the world.
Second: LaCru Salon (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980)
Third: Smoak Salon (622 Duling Ave, Suite 206, 601-982-5313)
Good Showing: Social Agenda Salon (419 Mitchell Ave., 601-982-5575); Lacey's Salon (1935 Lakeland Drive, Suite C, 601-397-6389)
Best Bookstore: Lemuria Books
Banner Hall, 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202, 601-366-7619, http://www.lemuriabooks.com
It is a testament to Jackson that local readers chose quality over quantity. Lemuria Books can order anything that might not be in stock, plus it offers a connection to authors. Recently, in conjunction with Hal & Mal's, Lemuria Books hosted a visit by author Chuck Palahniuk. David Sedaris, Keith Spera, Erin Morgenstern, Preston Lauterbach and Curtis Wilkie have all made their way to Lemuria Books. The comfortable atmosphere makes it easy to spend an entire afternoon lost in a book.
Second: Choctaw Books (926 N. State St., 601-352-7281)
Third: Heroes and Dreams: Comics and Collectibles (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 1700, Flowood, 601-992-3100)
Good Showing: The Book Rack (1491 Canton Mart Road, Suite 7, 601-956-5086; 584 Springridge Road, Suite C, Clinton, 601-924-9020); JSU Bookstore (Jackson State University, Student Center, 1400 J. R. Lynch St., 601-979-2021)
Best Museum, Best Tourist Attraction: Mississippi Children's Museum
2145 Highland Drive, 601-981-5469, http://www.mississippichildrensmuseum.com
In a world where kids are constantly being told what not to do, the Mississippi Children's Museum offers a place that is just for them. The 40,000-square-foot museum has around 20,000 square feet of exhibits that reflect five themes: Mississippi heritage, health and nutrition, literacy, cultural arts, and science and technology.
Two of my favorite exhibits are the extra-large wall-to-wall Scrabble game and the digestive system model where kids can slide their way into a huge toilet. Sounds gross, but it's actually really cool! All the exhibits give children the opportunity to touch, play, explore and learn. Families can buy annual memberships that give you full access to the museum as well as, discounts in the gift shop, birthday party rentals and more. Memberships can also be given as a gift.
The museum holds an annual Ignite the Night fundraising event. The night is just for adults and gives them an opportunity to explore and feel like kids again. This year's event is Saturday, Feb. 11, with a 1920s theme. Last year's event raised $100,000, and they are hoping to match or exceed that this year.
Second: Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive, 601-354-7303)
Third: Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515)
Good Showing: Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum (1150 Lakeland Drive, 601-432-4500); Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St., 601-359-6920); Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center (528 Bloom St., 601-960-1457)
Best Tourist Attraction
Second: Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St., 601-359-6920)
Third: The Mississippi Craft Center (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-7546)
Good Showing: Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515); Welty House and Garden (1119 Pinehurst St., 601-353-7762); Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580)
Best Reason to Live in Jackson: The People
Despite its size, Jackson has many small-town qualities. Jackson is a city with a strong community where we know our mail carrier, our librarians and the barista who crafts our perfect latte. We run into our doctors at the neighborhood pizza joint and our child's preschool teacher at the grocery. Jackson is a place where we can get into a conversation with a complete stranger in a waiting room or a grocery line or at the gym and walk away knowing each other's life stories and feeling all the richer for getting acquainted.
—Kelly Bryan Smith
Good Showing: Shopping; Community; Belhaven
Best Boutique: Material Girls
182 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-4533; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-605-1605, http://www.shopmaterialgirls.com
Staying on trend can be a tall order for a girl, so it's good to have some go-to shops to help you out. This year's winners are up to the task. Material Girls not only has an online store, but will text you with the latest arrivals and sales to keep you in the know. Treehouse in Fondren is one of my personal favorites both for cocktail dresses and designer denim. Libby Story, which recently moved to Renaissance at Colony Park, offers a fun and funky mix of modern and vintage pieces, and I often find deals on some killer shoes there. These local boutiques are definitely doing their part to keep Jackson stylish.
Second: Treehouse (3000 N. State St., 601-982-3433)
Third: Libby Story (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5003, 662-323-1427)
Good showing: Migi's (131 Market St., Flowood, 601-919-8203), Pink Bombshell (270 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-919-1366, 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5007, 601-853-0775), circa. Urban Artisan Living (2771 Old Canton Road, 601-362-8484), 4450 (4450 Interstate 55 N., 601-366-3687)
Best Bridal/Gift Registry: The Everyday Gourmet
1625 E. County Line Road, Suite 500, 601-977-9258, http://www.theeverydaygourmet.com
The Everyday Gourmet sells Mississippi-made items such as raspberry chipotle sauce, cheese straws and Oxford Falls comeback dressing. You can also buy novelty items such as Mississippi-shaped cutting boards and cookie cutters. The Everyday Gourmet won the Jackson Free Press Best Bridal/Gift Registry and Mississippi Magazine's Best Kitchen Store last year. Everyday Gourmet prides itself on having one of the largest bridal registries in the south. Even though a newly married couple could use almost any of the items in the store, the bridal registry (with an online component) makes it even simpler to find great gifts at a locally owned store.
Second: Batte Furniture (1010 E. Northside Drive, 601-366-0335)
Third: Persnickety Home Accents and Fine Gifts (2078 Main St., Madison, 601-853-9595)
Good Showing: The Early Settler (4500 Interstate 55, Suite 118, 601-366-2715); The Cupboard (745 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-924-5245); The Paper Place (2941 Old Canton Road, 601-366-3675); Mississippi Craft Center (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-7546)
Best Comic Book Store: Heroes and Dreams: Comics and Collectibles
5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 1700, Flowood, 601-992-3100, http://www.heroesanddreams.com
Jay Long at Heroes and Dreams thinks that you deserve more. Perhaps you buy comic books at the supermarket or the bookstore, which is OK. But like a man trapped on an island with only a coconut tree for food, that will only keep you alive. How long will it be until you start dreaming of a juicy steak? Heroes and Dreams is that steak. They offer a variety of comics to satisfy everyone's taste: adults, kids, teens or even the old man living down by the river. As a bonus, after you finish perusing the variety of choices, stay for a game night. Wii, Heroclix, Magic and others are options for this weekly Friday night event. Or come out for a movie projected outside in drive-in theater style. For Halloween, they showed "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Well, "dammit, Janet," that's pretty awesome!
Second: Van's Comics and Cards (558 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-898-9950)
Third: Java Ink (420 Roberts St., Pearl, 601-397-6292)
Good Showing: Comic Commander/Action Island (579 Highway 51, Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-856-1789)
Best Campaigner for Best of Jackson Award: Chris Paige
Chris Paige again pulled off a coup to capture to the Rising Entrepreneur honor for a consecutive year. That's not to say that runner-up Jeff Good is slouch at self-promotion; it's just that when you operate four food businesses, something's gotta give. Maybe it's the fact that election season is upon us, but folks this year seemed to vie as hard for 2012 Best of Jackson awards as candidates seeking their party's presidential nomination. The only difference is that this is a crew of campaigners that we'd actually enjoy having over for a tea party.
Second: Jeff Good
Third: Janis Boersma
Good Showing: Whitney Giordano/Material Girls
Best Dance Lessons: Salsa Mississippi
605 Duling Ave., 601-213-6355, http://www.salsamississippi.com
Salsa Mississippi wins again this year, with the best dance classes in town. They offer a range from beginner salsa to hip-hop to West Coast Swing, all for just $10, and a Zumba class for just $5. A friend who recently attended their Zumba class sent me an excited text message afterward claiming it was "the best Zumba class ever" and said "I felt like I was in 'Dancing with the Stars:' It was so freeing, SO good." It's not just her, though. Every time I pass by and see the dancers during their Saturday-night Latin Dance Party, it seems everyone feels free and happy. Sometimes you need a little spice in your life, and Salsa Mississippi is just the place to get it.
Second: Dance Connection Ballroom Dance Center (306 N. Bierdeman Road, Pearl, 601-932-2374)
Third: Ballet Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St., Suite 106, 601-960-1560)
Good Showing: Dance Unlimited (6787 S. Siwell Road, Suite E, Byram 601-373-6143; 3091 Highway 49 S., Suite E, Florence, 601-373-6143); Beverly's School of Dance (107 Office Park Drive, Brandon, 601-825-4056), Ballet Magnificat! (5406 Interstate 55 N., 601-977-1001), The Dance Studio (665 S. Pear Orchard Road, Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-899-8880)
Best Fitness Center/Gym: The Courthouse Racquet and Fitness
Multiple Locations, http://www.mscourthouse.com
With multiple locations in Jackson, Madison, Byram and Flowood, Courthouse adds convenience to go along with the fitness programs they offer.
The programs and classes include yoga, aerobics and kickboxing. Courthouse also offers sports training like basketball and racquetball. Highly trained, certified, personal trainers help you maintain or achieve your fitness goals.
Courthouse offers a membership package that will fit for just about everyone.
Second: The Club (multiple locations: http://www.theclubms.com)
Third: YMCA (multiple locations)
Good Showing: Fitness Lady (331 Sunnybrook Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-0535, and 5720 Highway 80 East, Pearl, 601-939-2122); Baptist Healthplex (717 Manship St., 601-968-1766); Anytime Fitness (4924 Interstate 55 N., 601-321-9465; 628 South Pearson Road, Pearl, 601-664-0330; 655 Highway 49 S., Richland, 601-933-1945)
Best Caterer: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral
108 Cypress Cove, Flowood, 601-939-4518, http://www.wendyputt.com
It's no secret that Jacksonians love to party. Thanks to Wendy Putt of Fresh Cut Catering & Floral, the city's parties can be safe from any sort of food or decoration disaster. Always perfectly prepared, Putt's menu is delicious and impeccable, making her Jackson's favorite caterer. Fresh Cut is a one-stop shop for food and flower design, and Putt makes every party an unforgettable experience with her variety of a food offerings, lovely decorations and floral arrangements, and professional service.
Second: Mangia Bene (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900)
Third: Cosmopolitan Catering (2947 Old Canton Road, 601-983-4450)
Good Showing: Julep Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-1411); VIP Grand Events (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-713-4040); Julie Levanway's Fresh From the Flame (5446 River Thames Road, 601-957-6123)
Best Category We Left Off (tie): Japanese Hibachi / Weight Loss Facility / Travel Agent
Jacksonians have given us interesting suggestions for new categories to consider next year. And they combine some of our favorite things—food and travel—with a health-related category: weight loss.
Japanese hibachi restaurants are all about the show: Cooks twirl their knives with lightning-fast aplomb, slicing and dicing your selection of fresh ingredients inches from your nose before serving it up.
Travel agents know all the well-kept secrets that discount Internet travel websites can't give you. Just give them your wish list and let them do the legwork for your perfect vacation.
And of course, when you're ready to get serious about taking off the pounds, whether from all that great southern comfort food or eating out a few times too many, nothing beats a weight-loss expert. Go add your suggestions for new categories for the next round at http://www.bestofjackson.com.
Best Day Spa: Aqua the Day Spa
4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123, http://www.aquathedayspa.com
Jacksonians have voted Aqua the Day Spa "Best Spa" since 2003. The spa, owned by Ralph and Susan Barnette, who also own Barnette's Salon, is what a spa is supposed to be: a relaxing escape from the everyday. On stressful days, I daydream of being at Aqua with my hands in paraffin wax or getting the knots in my back massaged away. It offers six different types of massages and specialize in essential facial treatments, hair removal services, anti-aging facial treatments and luxurious body treatments, like the Lavender Relaxing Exfoliating Polish.
Second: Trio Medi Spa (4812 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-608-8746)
Third: LaCru (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 100, Flowood, 601-992-7980)
Good Showing: Skin District (2629 Courthouse Circle, Suite B, Flowood, 601-981-7546), Drench (118 W. Jackson St., Suite 2B, Ridgeland, 601-707-5656), Mon Ami (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 128, 601-366-7721), nomiSpa (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429)
Best Facialist/Esthetician: Laya Parisi, LaCru Salon
5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980, http://www.lacrusalon.com, http://www.layasskincare.com
Licensed esthetician Laya Parisi knows skin. She provides epidermal expertise and a list of packages and treatments for any skin-care concerns. Parisi even encourages you to bring your current skin-care products to evaluate and educate your way to better-looking face, neck and hands. After a visit with Parisi, you will feel more relaxed and motivated about maintaining or improving your way to better-looking skin.
Second: Linda Whitaker Sun Gallery (6712 Old Canton Road, Suite 3, Ridgeland, 601-957-7502)
Third: Tamar Sharp (nomiSpa, 734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429)
Good Showing: Rachel McDuffie (Aqua the Day Spa, 4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-9550); Ryan Hodges (Sanctuary Body Spa at the Township, 340 Township Ave., Suite 200, 601-790-2222)
Best Dentist: Jim Ed Watson, Center for Smiles
1437 Old Square Road, Suite 203, 601-366-7645, http://www.jxnsmiles.com
Most people dread going to the dentist. They squirm at the thought of that drill buzzing and of getting braces tightened again. I'm not one of those people. Call me crazy, but I actually really love going to the dentist. And with Dr. Jim Ed Watson of The Jackson Center for Smiles around, it seems like people like me aren't such a rarity anymore. A Yazoo native, Watson is an expert in veneers and full mouth restoration.
It's only logical that you smile when you think about going to see Watson, because it's likely that he made your smile as nice as it is.
Second (tie): Lance Dillon (927 Highway 51, Madison, 601-898-3000), Chad Stokes (200 Key Drive, Madison, 601-856-5227), Rusty Riley (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 238, 601-366-1117)
Third: Brad Armstrong (459 Pebble Creek Drive, Madison, 601-856-3141)
Good Showing: Paula Stewart (505 Springridge Road, Suite C, Clinton, 601-924-2446), Jason Cox (105 Belle Meade Point, Flowood, 601-919-8575), Amy Sherman (1004 Hugh Ward Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-9975)
Best Barber Shop: Maurice's
Multiple Locations: call 601-362-2343
Maurice's barber shop is no new player in the cut-and-style industry. The Northside location opened in 1952, and the owners remodeled the space this year. For people new to the area looking to find a new barber, look no further. Maurice's has locations in Jackson, Ridgeland and Madison. Want to get a fresh cut for the weekend, taper your loose edges or line up your hideous mustache and beard? Visit Maurice's.
Second: Custom Cuts and Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292)
Third: Bob's Cut and Curl (3015 N. State St., 601-362-0326) / Good Showing: Lil' Dave's (3013 J.R. Lynch St., 601-354-1010 or 601-355-0003); Madison Family Barber (211 Hoy Road, Madison, 601-853-8084); Nappy Kutz (3807 Robinson Road, 601-923-6444)
Best Doctor: Dr. Manisha Sethi
6919 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland; 601-956-0911
When it comes to their children, parents usually want the best for them, especially concerning their health care. With repeat Best Doctor winner, Dr. Manisha Sethi of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in Ridgeland, the best is what they'll get. Opened in 2005 by Sethi, the clinic serves patients of all ages with kind and professional care. Sethi knew she wanted to be a doctor from a young age. She attended Millsaps College at age 15 and graduating magna cum laude at 18. After completing her dual residency in pediatrics and internal medicine, she served as chief resident of pediatrics until opening her own clinic.
Second: Dr. Bard Johnston (401 Baptist Drive, Suite 104, Madison, 601-605-3858)
Third: Dr. Meredith Travelstead (501 Marshall St., Suite 400, 601-354-0869)
Good Showing: Dr. Bruce Black (401 Baptist Drive, Suite 104, Madison, 601-605-3858); Dr. Dan Woodliff (971 Lakeland Drive, Suite 250, 601-982-1283); Dr. Massie Headley (6250 Old Canton Road; Suite 100, 601-957-1015); Dr. Joe Terry (935 Highway 51, Madison, 601-856-5986)
Best Hair Stylist: Lacey Norris, Lacey's Salon & Accessories
1935 Lakeland Drive, 601-906-2253
Lacey's Salon is an enigmatic blend of the classic and new. Offering everything from the newest trendy cuts to flawless coloring, Canton native Lacey Norris undoubtedly knows her trade. A true testament to her fabulous service is the legion of loyal customers. Everything from the bright décor to the southern charm invites you into Lacey's Salon. She truly is a champion, winning Best Hair Stylist for her fifth year running. Lacey's is a Jackson favorite, headed by a young, passionate spirit who's hard to forget.
Second: Eddie Outlaw, William Wallace Salon (2939 Old Canton Road, 601-982-8300)
Third: Claire Kinsey, Gloss Salon (733 Lake Harbour Drive, 601-898-8640)
Good Showing: Griff Howard, Ritz Salon (775 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite H, Ridgeland, 601-856-4330); Crystal Williams, Social Agenda Salon & Boutique (2945 Old Canton Road, 601-982-5575); Stephanie Barnes, LaCru (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980)
Best Place to Buy Antiques: Antique Mall of the South
367 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-4000, http://www.antiquemallofthesouth.com
At the Antique Mall of the South, you can find vintage and antique furniture, glassware, paintings and custom jewelry. Vendors bring in their own merchandise. The mall has been opened since 1991. "We have good merchandise at a fair price and our staff is friendly and helpful. And we have a great location," manager Fay Hudgins says. Owned by Dunedin Corp., the antique mall is open seven days a week. Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
Second: Old House Depot (639 Monroe St., 601-592-6200)
Third: Interiors Market (659 Duling Ave., 601-981-6020)
Good Showing: Repeat Street (626 Ridgewood Road, 601-605-9393); Interior Spaces (5060 Interstate 55 N., 601-956-4199); St. Martin's Gallery (2817 Old Canton Road, 601-362-1977)
Best Place to Buy Shoes: The Shoe Bar at Pieces
425 Mitchell Ave., 601-939-5204
Sometimes a girl wants to buy a new pair of shoes without the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall—or prefers to shop with a locally owned business. For those times, a trip to The Shoebar at Pieces is necessary. The boutique has unique and stylish shoes in brand names such as Jessica Simpson, Bebe and L.A.M.B for all the shoe addicts in the area. Originally named Designer's Shoe Palace, the store opened in 1993 on Lakeland Drive. In 2007, the Shoe Bar at Pieces moved to a refurbished house in the Fondren area. The boutique also sells clothes, handbags and jewelry. The next time you're itching for a new pair of Jeffrey Campbell or Sam Edelma shoes, check out the Shoe Bar's selection.
Second: Earth Walk Shoes (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-981-1975)
Third: Material Girls (1000 Highland Colony, Ridgeland, 601-605-1065)
Good Showing: Maison Weiss (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 109, 601-981-9621); Plato's Closet (1260 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-487-8207)
Best Plumber: Skeen Plumbing and Gas Inc.
220 Christopher Cove, Suite A, Ridgeland, 601-856-5758, http://www.skeenplumbinggas.com
In March, Skeen will celebrate 29 years of meeting the plumbing needs of residents and businesses in the Jackson area. Ricky Skeen and his team take pride in having the best-trained, certified team around. Training takes place every week, introducing employees to new tools and technology. Plans are to send some technicians to Germany for upcoming training. Skeen says it is the only company in Mississippi offering a service that relines damaged pipes.
Second: Chris Wright (Wright Plumbing, 114 Southern Ridge Drive, Madison, 601-898-3223)
Third: Buford Heating and Plumbing (5625 Highway 18 W., 601-372-7676)
Good Showing: Neill Plumbing (4321-1/2 N. State St., 601-366-0507); T.J. Hare Plumbing (Springridge Road, 601-922-1874); Wesley Brisendine (at Mr. Rooter) (601-414-0020)
Best Locally Owned Business: LaCru Salon Tan and Spa
5352 Highway 25, Suite 100, Flowood, 601-992-7980
Hair, skin and nails are often my top priorities. Luckily for me, I can get pretty in a local spot and save gas and time. LaCru Salon Tan and Spa, opened by Stephanie Barnes eight years ago in February, has offered services including color, haircuts and styles, facials and tanning. "Our goal as a team will always be a commitment to performance, integrity and change," Barnes said. The professionals can also wax and do various nail treatments. Be sure to check out the Jane Ireland mineral cosmetic line.
Second: circa. Urban Artisan Living (2771 Old Canton Road, 601-362-8484)
Third (tie): Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St. 601-360-0090); Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-497-6349)
Good Showing: Material Girls (1000 Highland Colony, Ridgeland 601-605-1065); Mangia Bene (3317 N. State St., 601-982-4443); Plato's Closet (1260 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, MS 39157 601-487-8207)
Best Kids' Event: WellsFest
September, Jamie Fowler Boyll Park, 1398 Lakeland Drive, 601-353-0658, http://www.wellschurch.org
For 28 years, the Wells Memorial United Methodist Church has proven that fun for the family can be had while contributing to a good cause. Another year has passed with the WellsFest event continuing to help others. It is as if sponsors and visitors go that extra mile in raising money. This year the beneficiary was the Mustard Seed Organization, which helps developmentally challenged adults to lead their lives to their fullest potential. With mixed selection of music, families enjoyed a relaxing time together with plenty of activities to choose from. Nearly 50 vendors came out to participate. Even though temperatures were in the mid '80s with plenty of fans in view, there were even more smiles in the crowd.
Second: KidsFest (April, Freedom Ridge Park, 235 W. School St., Ridgeland, 601-853-2011)
Third: Rip the Cypher (121 Millsaps Ave., 601-540-5991)
Good Showing: Mississippi Children's Museum (2145 Highland Drive, 877-793-5437); Pump It Up (1576 Old Fannin Road, Suite P, 601-992-5866); Mississippi State Fair (October, 1200 Mississippi St., 601-362-6121)
Best Martial Arts Studio: Jason Griffin's Tae Kwon Do
103 Christian Drive, Suite D, Brandon, 601-824-0058; 125 Dyess Road, Ridgeland, 601-977-9000, http://www.griffinstkd.com
At Jason Griffin's Tae Kwon Do studio, beginners can learn the basics of self-defense and advance to become the next tae kwon do champion. Self-defense is not a new concept and is here to stay. For 15 years, the patient and talented Jason Griffin has taken time with each student, even following their grades in school. People use martial arts to fight off attackers. Some use it as a stress reliever, and others use it just as a way to compete with others. Considering putting your child in martial arts classes? The studio offers a trial class that includes a uniform with fees. Each studio has different class schedules, so call ahead.
Second: Academy of Kung Fu (626 Ridgewood Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-5051)
Third: Gracie South (5352 Lakeland Dr., Suite 1400, Flowood, 601-502-7634)
Good Showing: West Hapkido Academy (291 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-8487); Martial Arts Academy (2160 Main St., Suite F, Madison, 601-898-5555); Knockout Fitness and MMA (205 Belle Meade Pointe, Flowood, 769-233-7901)
Best Liquor/Wine Store: Kats Wine and Spirits
921 E. Fortification St., 601- 983-5287, http://www.katswine.com
Kats offers an expansive selection of wines to accommodate anyone's taste. Even if you aren't a wine connoisseur, you won't feel out of place due to descriptions along with meal pairing suggestions and Kats' signature Wine Scoreboard that rates wines from 1 to 100. At Kats, they believe that having a great bottle of wine shouldn't put a dent in your wallet, which is why they offer more than 90 wines priced under $20. If you need guidance, the knowledgeable staff is eager to assist you with choosing the best wine.
Second: Briarwood Wine and Spirits (4949 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5108)
Third: Fondren Cellars (633 Duling Ave., 769-216-2323)
Good Showing: Joe T's (286 Highway 51 N., Ridgeland, 601-605-7602); McDade's Wine and Spirits (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 320, 601-366-5676); Reservoir Wine and Spirits (775 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite C, Ridgeland, 601-856-2712
Best Massage Therapist: Martha Howell, Baptist Health Complex
717 Manship St., 601-968-1766, http://www.mbhs.org
A great massage helps relieve stress and worries. It not only takes the knots out of tense muscles, but also the knots from your thought process, and finding a massage therapist whom you feel comfortable around is priceless. Martha Howell has been voted Best Massage Therapist for two years in a row. Last May, she spent a month in Beijing, China, studying massage techniques. She performs acupressure and deep tissue massages. Each session is specific to each individual, and her work incorporates the connection between mind and body. A visit with her will have you feeling relaxed and stress free.
Second: Brad Jackson (Body Anew Medical Spa, 113 W. Jackson St., Suite 1-A, Ridgeland, 601-605-0452)
Third: William Boren (Highland Village, 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 239, 601-942-5014)
Good Showing: Sara Simpson (2626 Southerland St., 601-613-6040); Stephanie Miller (The Massage Studio LLC, 1510 N. State St., Suite 302, 601-624-7784); Olga Richardson (Massage by Olga, 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 254, 601-918-4087)
Best Garden Supply/Nursery: Lakeland Yard & Garden Center
4210 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-939-7304, http://www.lakelandyardandgarden.com
It's easy to wander for hours in Lakeland Yard & Garden's 17-acre nursery. Walking in, one gets the distinct feeling of being inside the Secret Garden. Lakeland Yard & Garden offers everything from fig trees to blueberry bushes and a variety of garden and lawn decorations. With aisles and aisles of greenery and interesting lawn furniture to browse, it's easy to lose yourself in the surroundings.
Second: Callaway's Yard & Garden Center (839 Pear Orchard Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-1731)
Third: Green Oak (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017)
Good Showing: Hutto's Home and Garden Center (1320 Ellis Ave., 601-973-2277); Martinson's Garden Works (650 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-3078); Everyday Gardener (2905 Old Canton Road, 601-981-0273)
Best Mechanic: Graves and Stoddard
722 Highway 80 E., Flowood, 601-939-3662
If you don't have an ace mechanic for a relative, you need the repeat winner in this category, Graves and Stoddard in Flowood. With a "treat your car like it's our own" attitude, Willie Graves and Todd Stoddard have kept cars going for the last 26 years.
"We know people don't always have a lot of money," Graves says, so they work with customers to get the vehicle back on the road.
Second: Putnam's Automotive Service (4879 N. State St., 601-366-1886)
Third: Ridgeland Service Center (282 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-7666)
Good Showing: Gateway Tire and Service Center (3004 J.R. Lynch St., 601-352-3611); Car Care Clinic (multiple locations)
Best Men's Clothes: The Rogue and Good Company
4450 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-6383, http://www.therogue.com
Frank Sinatra, Terrence Howard and "Mad Men"'s Don Draper—what do these men have in common? Style. The well-dressed man knows what he likes to wear and wears it with confidence. However, if you're not sure what to wear, the staff at The Rogue and Good Company will assist you in finding just the right watch or cuff links to go with that Peter Millar sweater or that Ted Baker wool jacket. Voted again as the best location for men's clothing, The Rogue's 200 years of combined experience means they know what they are talking about. With a wide range of shoes, suits, casual clothing and accessories; a visit to The Rogue and Good Company will make sure you leave feeling as good as you look.
Second: Plato's Closet (1260 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-487-8207)
Third: Kinkade's Fine Clothing (120 W. Jackson St., Suite 2B, Ridgeland, 601-898-0513)
Good Showing: Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, Site 101, 601-984-3500); Red Square Clothing Co. (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 9004, Ridgeland, 601-853-8960); Jos A. Bank (870 Interstate 55 N., 601-366-9711)
Best Tanning Salon: Sun Gallery
2720 N. State St., 601-366-5811
If you want a little sun in your life, and don't want to do it the old-fashioned way or don't live near a beach, here's an option. A tanning salon gives you the option to tan whenever you like—as long as it's during business hours. A professional will conveniently help you obtain the perfect shade of bronze or golden shimmer or any shade. Come out looking beautiful whether alone or with a friend or two.
Second: Solar 51 (136 S. Pearson Road, Pearl, 601-939-1990; 727 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-925-9747; 398 Highway 51, Suite 130, Ridgeland, 601-898-1003)
Third: Reservoir Tan & Salon (132 Lakeland Heights Blvd., Suite D, Flowood, 601-992-3535)
Good Showing: Pear Orchard Tan (305 Towne Center Place, Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-853-6826); SunKissed Tanning (1189 Old Fannin Road, Flowood, 769-798-0705); Palm Beach Tan (multiple locations: see palmbeachtan.com)
Best Yoga Studio: Butterfly Yoga
3025 N. State St., 601-981-6449, http://www.butterflyyoga.net
Founded in 2002 by Scotta Brady, Butterfly Yoga offers Anusara classes. A variety of classes include Vinyasa Flow, Randi Young-Jerome's Bellydancing, Ronni Mott's Yoga Over 50 and even a Breakdance-Hybrid Yoga class. Butterfly's instructors patiently work with every students' individual capabilities to ensure a safe and sane practice—and it's a fun group to hand out with. Try it.
Second: JoyFlow Yoga (7048 Old Canton Road, Suite 2F, 601-613-4317)
Third: Courthouse (46 Northtown Drive, 601-956-1300)
Good Showing: Studio OM (665 Duling Ave., 601-209-6325); Tara Yoga (200 Park Circle, Suite 4, Flowood, 601-932-7700)
Best Art Gallery: Fischer Galleries
3100 N. State St., Suite 101, 601-291-9115, http://www.fischergalleries.com
Art in Jackson isn't hard to come by. We have plenty of local art galleries and artists who are constantly presenting new work. Fondren is home to a few, including Fischer Galleries. Marcy Nessel opened Fischer Galleries about four years ago. She probably didn't know that she was opening one of the best art galleries in Jackson. When clients and art viewers walk in the door, Nessel greats them warmly and can tell them all about the featured artists in her gallery, such as Richard Kelso and Charles Carraway.
Fischer Galleries has monthly gallery shows to exhibit new work from contemporary southern artists. February's show features various self-portraits from artists such as Mathew Puckett. It opens Feb. 9 at 5 p.m.
Second: Southern Breeze Gallery (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5005, Ridgeland, 601-607-4147)
Third: Brown's Fine Art and Framing (630 Fondren Place, 601-982-4844)
Good Showing: Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515); Fondren Art Gallery (3030 N. State St. 601-981-9222); Gallery 119 (119 S. President St., 601-969-4091)
Best Musical Instruments: Morrison Brothers Music
127 Dyess Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-013, http://www.mobro.net
I've got a confession to make. Sometimes I like to crank the music in my car and rock out "Welcome to the Jungle," fantasizing about my imaginary life as a rock star. But then I snap back to reality and rush to get my son to Cub Scouts.
But it's never too late to strap on a guitar or pick up some drumsticks. Morrison Brothers Music offers lessons in everything from the piano and guitar to the drums, violin and fiddle. With an abundant supply of guitars, keyboards, drum components, DJ equipment and band and orchestra pieces to choose from, and the equipment to record it, you really do not have an excuse for hiding your inner artist.
Second: Mississippi Music (1001 Sara Lane, Flowood, 601-922-1200)
Third: Fondren Guitars by Patrick Harkins (607 Fondren Place, 601-362-0313)
Good Showing: Guitar Center (1189 E. County Line Road, 601-956-8053); Lakeland Music (5200 Highway 25, Flowood, 601-992-0089); Allegrezzo Piano Company (608 Highway 51, Suite A, Ridgeland, 601-856-2524)
Best Flower Shop: Greenbrook Flowers
705 N. State St., 601-957-1951, http://www.greenbrookflower.com
With five generations dedicated to floral arrangement, Greenbrook Flowers has elevated the practice to an art form. A few years ago, Greenbrook's owners started a holiday: Good Neighbor Day. On the first Wednesday of each September, every customer is given a dozen free roses to give to the people they care about. With more and more flowers being handed out each year, Good Neighbor Day is now celebrated among florists as a national holiday. Greenbrook is the place to go for flowers for any occasion, and everyone has a Greenbrook story. Its masterful arrangements and neighborly attitude have won the folks at Greenbrook six consecutive Best of Jackson titles.
Second: A Daisy a Day Flowers & Gifts (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 194, 601-982-4438)
Third: Drake's Designs (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-957-6983)
Good Showing: Mostly Martha's (353 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-956-1474); Whitley's Flowers (740 Lakeland Drive, 601-362-8844); Green Oak (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017)
Best Nature Walk: Natchez Trace
If you really want to get away from it all, head up the Natchez Trace for breathtaking scenery and peaceful solitude. There are several nice places to picnic and explore closer to town, but if you really need to get away, head up to the exotic Cypress Swamp trail. If you've got more time on your hands, journey down to Rocky Springs where you can splash in the stream or wander through a wooded ghost town. Close to home or farther afield, the Natchez Trace offers scenic beauty at every turn.
—Kelly Bryan Smith
Second: LeFleur's Bluff / Mayes Lake (2140 Riverside Drive, 601-987-3923)
Third: Clinton Nature Center (617 Dunton Road, 601-926-1104)
Good Showing: Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive, 601-576-6000); Belhaven University and Neighborhood (1500 Peachtree St., 601-968-5940)
Best Playground/Park: Laurel Street Park
1841 Laurel St., Belhaven
Laurel Street Park is a treasure. Where else in town can you go for play dates, Easter-egg hunts, birthday parties, picnics, a shaded sandbox, kickball games and running into friends? You can race on a zipline, drive a fire truck or even muck around in some mud, one of our family's favorite activities. Jackson has many lovely places for children to get fresh air and sunshine, but what makes Laurel Street Park stand out even above the amazing new Winner's Circle Park is its close-knit community vibe.
—Kelly Bryan Smith
Second: Winner's Circle Park (100 Winners Circle Drive, Flowood)
Third: LeFleur's Bluff State Park (2140 Riverside Drive, 601-987-3923)
Good Showing: Strawberry Patch Park (271 St. Augustine Drive, Madison); Liberty Park (810 Madison Ave., Madison); Parham Bridges (5055 Old Canton Road)
Best Yoga Instructor: Jean Powers, The Courthouse
46 Northtown Drive, 601-956-1300, http://www.mscourthouse.com
Jean Powers still holds the No. 1 spot for her various yoga styles including Iyenger, Power and Vinyasa Flow. Jean's passion for yoga is infectious. She inspires others with her story. She invites her students to stay present, be real and breathe. She brings playful humor and intuitive insight along with hands on help to create a personal connection. Jean reminds students of what they already know.
Second: Scotta Brady (Butterfly Yoga, 3025 N. State St., 601-594-2313)
Third: Tara Blumenthal (Energy in Motion, 200 Park Circle, Suite 4, Flowood, 601-932-7700)
Good Showing: Debi Lewis (Joyflow Yoga, 7048 Old Canton Road, Suite 2F, Ridgeland, 601-613-4317); Katie Cassady (Butterfly Yoga, 3025 N., State St., 601-981-6449); Georgette Turner (Matworks Yoga and Pilates Club, 322 Highway 80 E., Suite 8, Clinton, 601-624-6356 )
Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor: Squench's Tattoos and Body Piercing
3780 Interstate 55 S., 601-372-2800, http://www.squenchstattoos.com
Squench and his team of ink and piercing specialists are much too professional to let the return of Jason Thomas (owner of The Ink Spot/Black Diamond) have an effect on them. Yes, he has returned and jumped from a respectable fourth place to a dangerous second place in the course of a year. However, the commitment to the craft matched with more than 25 years in this business leaves all challengers found wanting.
The Greeks had Sparta. The Navy has the SEALS. And the tattoo world has Squench's Tattoos and Body Piercing—the best in their field. Whatever your style, budget or mood, Squench and family will make sure you leave happy.
Second: Black Diamond, formerly The Ink Spot (5015 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-9437)
Third: House of Pain Tattoo (Swinging Bridge Shopping Center, 22 Holiday Rambler Lane, Suite 300, Byram, 601-321-9040)
Good Showing: Twiztid Images (557 Highway 49 S., Richland, 601-664-0000); Eternal Body Art (3611 Interstate 55 S., 601-346-5963); Animal House Tattoo Co. (420 N. Bierdeman Road, Pearl, 601-933-1120)
Best Tailor: Custom Tailoring by Al
1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 4004, Ridgeland, 601-607-3443;
258 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-1373, http://www.customtailoringbyalofms.com
Don't put off custom tailoring services any longer. You may feel that it is only for those with larger financial budgets, but don't knock it until you try it. Custom tailoring is an art, and Al Guevara has mastered it. From alterations to custom-designed suits and shirts, Al can make your old wedding gown new again and make those short pants just the right length. As the best tailor in the metro area, Custom Tailoring by Al offers garment-care tips and ensures the proper care of items brought in for service.
Second: Finishing Touch (4551 Office Park Drive, 601-362-5288)
Third: Michael Armstrong of Tom James Company (1775 Lelia Drive, Suite D, 601-713-2034)
Good Showing: Golden Touch (5355 Executive Place, 601-362-6790); Tailor You (6800 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-991-3300)
Best Thrift/Consignment Shop: Repeat Street
626 Ridgewood Road, 601-605-9393, http://www.repeatstreet.net
If you want a great selection and good prices on your used clothing, go no further than Repeat Street, the Ridgeland consignment store that has it all. Don't be fooled by its nondescript exterior. Inside, you will find a one-of-a-kind wonderland of fashionable and funky items that have already gotten a test drive from someone else. My personal favorite Repeat Street find is a pair of brown velvet Gap pants that I purchased as a leap of faith when I was pregnant with my son. They didn't fit at the time, but now they fit just like they were made for me.
—Kelly Bryan Smith
Second: Orange Peel (422 Mitchell Ave., 601-364-9977)
Third: Plato's Closet (1260 E. County Line Road, 601-487-8207)
Good Showing: Bargain Boutique (5070 Parkway Drive, 601-991-0500); N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458); Goodwill (multiple locations)
Best Unique Gifts: circa. Urban Artisan Living
2771 Old Canton Road, 601-362-8484, http://www.circaliving.com
With chain stores around each corner, how could one possibly find something one-of-a-kind? Well, circa. Urban Artisan Living sells artsy furniture, clothing and much more. The handcrafted products have a modern twist. The store has several categories of items: circa.homestead, circa.body, circa.wear, circa.vibe, circa.garden and circa.taste. Since opening circa. In 2010, owners Craig and Michele Escude have provided Jackson with functional art such as furniture, lamps, clothing and accessories.
Second: Mississippi Craft Center (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-7546)
Third: Apple Annie's (106 Autumn Ridge, Suite 6, Brandon, 601-992-9925 and 1896 Main St. Suite D, Madison, 601-853-8911)
Good Showing: Pine Cone (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 220, 601-713-1421); Turkoyz (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-981-4000); Persnickety Home Accents and Fine Gifts (2078 Main St., Madison, 601-853-9595)
Best Place to Buy Kids Clothes and Toys: Olde Tyme Commissary
4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-366-1849, http://www.commissarytoys.com
It seems as if children's toys are disposable plastic objects that quickly break or get lost. That is not the case at Highland Village's Olde Tyme Commissary, the place to go for classic, well-made children's toys that you will want to save for the grandkids, too. From wooden trains to Erector sets, from Madame Alexander dolls to play kitchens, Olde Tyme Commissary has something for every child.
—Kelly Bryan Smith
Second: Helen's Young Ages (4750 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-0317)
Third: Pop Fizz (1481 Canton Mart Road, Suite E, 601-977-1000),
Good Showing: Sweet Dreams (1896 Main St., 601-856-2080); Leap Frog (104 Village Blvd., 601-898-0727); Lemon Meringue (Renaissance at Colony Park, 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, 601-853-2611)