Pulled pork plates with all the trimmings will be for sale. File Photo.

The Broadmeadow neighborhood in the top of Fondren (State to 55, Northside to Meadowbrook) may be Fondren’s best-kept secret.

With a small town feel that includes an old-fashioned 4th of July parade and spontaneous potlucks revolving around any one of life’s little victories (like the time the city filled a massive pothole on a Broadmeadow main drag), the top of Fondren is a place its residents love to call home.

Often dubbed “the neighborhood who knows how to party,” their annual Blocktoberfeast is this Saturday (more on that in a moment). We sat down with Liz Brister, a Broadmeadow Neighborhood Association board member, who filled us in on their recent uptick in activity and a look at what will make Saturday’s 13-year-old tradition feel like brand-new.

Tell us about Broadmeadow Neighborhood Association; you guys seem to have a fresh energy.
We have been living in this special part of Fondren for years, but it seems like everything old is new again.  We have a number of new neighbors who are young, enthusiastic and ready to move us in many new directions.

We just completed a Broadmeadow clean-up day that involved working with Broadmeadow United Methodist Church, St. Richard Church, a local Boy Scout Troop and 21 AmeriCorps volunteers. It was a significant overhaul and we couldn’t have done this without innovative ideas and partnerships. This is our focus going forward – strategic partnerships.

And your next event – this Saturday is Blocktoberfeast. How long has that been around?
It started as a whole-pig roast back in 2004. The past couple of years, we have opted for roasting less than the whole pig, but we still have delicious smoked barbecue by some of the neighborhood’s best pit masters.  This annual block party provides neighbors a chance to gather with friends, drink some fall brews, eat some “q” and listen to local music while the kids get their own haven to play.

To go along with the energy of BNA, Blocktoberfeast itself has a new life to it this year. Can you tell me about some of the additions and changes?
Our new board, led by Derek Carroll – a less than two-year resident in our Fondren hamlet – was pressing us to make a change: it was time to call Blocktoberfeast quits or make it bigger and better. With support from our favorite neighborhood priest, St. Richard’s Father John (Bohn), who has been looking for a chance to partner with the neighborhood, we decided to expand a good event into an even better one using the beautiful green space on the corner of Manhattan and Lynwood Drive.

St. Richard is an anchor in our neighborhood, and it is growing with the recently constructed Special Kids house and Boy Scout hut. St. Richard, under Fr. John’s leadership, wants to get involved with the neighborhood.  The parish has been very supportive and we want to show off the beautiful grounds and improvements that are being made in our community.  And then build on this partnership with other key people and places. Part of what makes Broadmeadow unique is the relationships we have with our churches and schools.  The shared spaces that they so graciously open to us help make our community more livable.

We have three bands this year – emerging and established groups.  If you have been around Jackson for a while, the ZZQs will be a real treat with their classic rock tunes. Bill Ellison, Temperance Babcock and Jeff Perkins are also coming with their exceptional folk and bluegrass repertoire. Finally, we’re bringing super fun to the scene with the Fabulous Sea Panthers, led by stellar Latin teacher from St. Joe, Matt Hosler.  As always, we will have some great brews, but this year they will come in a very large beer trailer donated by Capital City Beverages.

We have a new pitmaster this year, Jason Tuten, who will be cooking up BBQ pork, hamburgers and hot dogs. We are also enhancing activities for children.  We’ve ordered an extra-large and fully loaded bounce house. There will be professional face painting, too. The Jackson Zoo will be bringing some special friends, including Honey the Screech Owl.  And for the young and young at heart, we’ve added a Corn Hole Tournament – $10 a team with a chance at some pretty cool prizes.

We also have to brag on our awesome communications team made up of Jason Hairston, Rachael Garner and Wade Thompson.  We have a billboard on I-55!

What else do folks need to know about Blocktoberfeast?
We are taking credit cards this year.  Food plates are priced from $5-10.  Souvenir cups are $10.  Many local vendors will be present with an emphasis on urban forestry, community farming and beautification. Steve Cupples will be taking orders for a custom-designed set of Adirondack chairs just for the Broadmeadow neighborhood and nearby neighbor Lauren Rhoades of Sweet and Sauer will be selling her pickled foods and Kombucha.

Grab a couple of lawn chairs or a blanket to throw on the grass, relax and enjoy the sounds, food and fellowship in a Fondren jewel – the Broadmeadow neighborhood.

More at topoffondren.com.

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