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Today is May 30, 2020

Celebrating 160 years ... the MS State Fair

By Sandra M. Buckley

Celebrating 160 years ... the MS State Fair

The Mississippi State Fair is turning 160 this year and will be “the place to be” October 2-14 with a fun-filled lineup that attendees have historically come to look forward to each fall. “Mississippi is known as one of the longest-running State Fairs in America,” said Steve Hutton, executive director of the Mississippi Fair Commission.

The anticipated event takes place in downtown Jackson at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds, drawing 600,000 people from around Mississippi, the United States and world. “We have welcomed visitors from Australia, Japan and all parts of the world,” noted Hutton, explaining that the event also makes a significant economic impact on the capital city area and state – at an estimated $50 million – by boosting sales for hotels, restaurants and retailers.

For many people, the fair represents a longstanding family tradition; for others, it’s the thrill of the carnival rides, cravings for fair food, headlining music performances, livestock shows, antique car show, arts and crafts, tractor pull, and much, much more.

The Midway – a 1.2-mile stretch of games, carnival rides and food – is always a fan favorite. From funnel cakes and fried pickles to corn dogs and fresh-baked biscuits, the options are almost endless. “Mississippi State Fair places a great emphasis on our local talent, such as Penn’s Fish House famous chicken-on-a-stick,” said Hutton, adding that another local favorite is the Icee stand, also a Mississippi-based product. “And, everyone can’t wait to get their fingers sticky with some good ole Malone’s State Fair Taffy. My favorite, however, is the ribeye sandwich provided the Mississippi Cattleman’s Association.”

New this year is “the coolest event at the fair,” known as the Ice Dome, an 8,000-square-foot ice skating rink featured in the Mississippi Coliseum that is only $10 for all-day skating. “We think having the Coliseum open, having an air-conditioned space for people to enjoy and having the ice rink is going to be the biggest new attraction at this year’s fair,” he said.

More newly added attractions include an Extreme Off-Road Exhibit and a “beautiful, double-decker merry-go-round that will be a sight to behold,” said Hutton. “Also, we are having a fun event to address a serious topic. We are hosting our first ever Ferris Wheel 5K RunAgainst Traffick, bringing awareness and raising money to fight Human Trafficking.”

A lineup of concerts is on tap as well, spanning a variety of musical genres. “Country music, rock, pop, R&B, blues, urban, gospel and bluegrass, something for everyone,” Hutton shared. “We are also proud to announce a new second stage, which will have 30 performances, all brand new and all local.”

The fair continues to be an annual destination for hundreds of thousands of people, and the reasons are numerous. One, however, is that it offers an affordable experience with general admission of only $5 for adults and children under 6 are free. Fairgoers can easily get a big bang for their buck, with specials as well as a host of free activities such as the Kid Zone, Pig Races, Fetch-N-Fish, the Petting Zoo and The Great American Thrill Show.

As the Mississippi State Fair celebrates its 160th milestone year, it is definitely on point as “the place to be” yet again. There is something for everyone, including opportunities for creating new traditions with family and friends while also triggering a few cherished memories of fair days gone by.

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