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Today is October 29, 2020

Mississippi State Fair Biscuits

A longtime tradition

By Steven Ward

Mississippi State Fair Biscuits

"It’s a trademark of the state fair. It’s part of people’s good memories from the fair."

What’s hot, flaky, tasty and free at the Mississippi State Fair?

Buttermilk biscuits of course.

This year’s fair will feature — as it has in some form since the 1950s — the biscuit booth, where visitors will be given a hot, homemade biscuit at no charge.

Odds are, when you visit the biscuit booth this year, you will be greeted by Andy Gipson, Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.

You can’t miss him. He will be the guy wearing the big white cowboy hat.

“It’s a trademark of the state fair. It’s part of people’s good memories from the fair. Getting that hot biscuit just puts a smile on people’s faces and that’s what we want to do,” Gipson said.

The biscuit booth is sponsored by Kroger, Prairie Farms Dairy and Blackburn Made Syrup.

Gipson said COVID-19 has forced some changes this year at the 161st state fair including masks, social distancing and constant cleaning.

“It will be the cleanest state fair in history for sure,” Gipson said.

Usually, there are two lines at the biscuit booth, Gipson said, but to accommodate social distancing and to get the biscuits out faster, there will be additional lines that will be shorter and more spread out.

Each year it’s estimated that the employees of the state department of Agriculture and Commerce who volunteer at the booth make 100,000 biscuits over the 12 days of the fair.

The pans the volunteers use hold 54 biscuits and six or seven of those are in the oven at one time. Gipson said hundreds of biscuits are coming out of the ovens at the same time providing hot and fresh biscuits for fairgoers.

Auguster Lewis, 52, has been making biscuits at the state fair for 24 years.

An administrative assistant with the state’s Agriculture and Commerce Department’s Weights and Measures Division since 1995, Lewis loves making the biscuits.

“It’s fun. I watched my mom make biscuits when I was young. We make the dough, roll and cut the biscuits out and bake them,” Lewis said.

Lewis has been a biscuit booth supervisor since 2018.

“I still help make them though. I can’t just sit there,” Lewis said laughing.

When asked what the secret is to creating the perfect state fair biscuit, Lewis said it’s all based on feel.

“You have to be very careful. Treat it carefully and take your time,” Lewis said.

 

Legendary Mississippi State Fair Buttermilk Biscuits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups self-rising Kroger flour

2 cups of cold Prairie Farms buttermilk

3/4 cup shortening

Blackburn Made Syrup

 

1. Lightly coat a large baking dish or cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, add flour. Dig a well in the middle and add the shortening. Using your hand or fork or pastry cutter cut shortening into flour until crumbly.

3. Dig a well, add buttermilk and stir until a soft ball of dough forms.

4. Lightly flour a flat surface, put soft ball of dough on floured surface and using your hands flatten to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 2-inch tin can or biscuit cutter, flour can or cutter before each cut, do not twist when cutting; cut out round biscuits and place on baking sheet.

5. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown.

 

Note: Remaining trim dough can be kneaded into more biscuits.

 

MORE INFORMATION:

At the Mississippi State Fair, each biscuit maker has their own recipe to make biscuits: the three main ingredients: self-rising flour, buttermilk and shortening.

Don’t overwork the biscuit dough. Once dough is kneaded to a smooth texture; don’t mash the dough; justly gently flatten it out to a half-inch height and begin cutting out biscuits with a tin can.

Flour the cutter before each cut so the dough won’t stick; do not twist it; just keep the wrist and cut biscuit out straight in a line cut up and down as close to each other to eliminate excess trim dough.

Biscuit pans must be cold and each pan at the fair holds a total of 54 biscuits (6 across and 9 down).

Things to avoid: Don’t add too much fl our which will make biscuits hard and dry; overworking the dough will make dough tough; and twisting the cutter which can produce tough and small results of biscuits.

 

IF YOU GO

This year’s fair opens Oct. 7 and will go through Oct. 18. Gate admission is $5 and children under 6 are free. Parking is $5 a car. Ride tickets are sold on the fairgrounds. Visit msstatefair.com or call 601-961-4000 for more information.

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