Thursday, July 31, 2014

Neshoba County Fair highlight the daily chair races

            Jan Risher is an author, freelance journalist and popular columnist for the Lafayette Advertiser in Lafayette, Louisiana. She’s also a transplant from southern Mississippi and loves to share her crazy state with readers. Crazy with deep affection, mind you, since no one in south Louisiana can throw crazy stones.
Photos by Neshoba County Fair
            This past week she shared stories and images from the Neshoba County Fair, which happens every summer about 25 miles from where Risher grew up. The annual event is more like a party, Risher explained, where people from the area come home and stay at "cabins" owned by residents. Camping, a few hotels and the Dancing Rabbit Casino are some accommodations available for tourists.
            “And basically, it's a giant reunion,” she said. “If you're from Neshoba County, you go home for that week and stay at the fair. If your parents are from Neshoba County that week, you go and stay at the fair.”
            Like most county fairs, there is plenty to do, including over at the racetrack.
Of course there's a pageant!
            “For the record, it is ridiculously hot there and people stay for the week, relaxing, watching horse cart races, riding rides, looking at the pickles and jam that won various contests and enjoying nightly performances (usually concerts),” Risher posted on Facebook. “This happens every afternoon when they open the racetrack for seating for that evening's concert.”
            When she posted, that night's show was the Miss Neshoba County contest.”
            The real fun, however, happens pre-show. When they open the area for lawn chairs at the afternoon and evening events, things get a little crazy — and we mean Deep South crazy. Participants wanting a good seat — and hauling their own lawn chairs — race to the best spot. It’s so funny, there are numerous videos on YouTube documenting this craziness.
            “The chair races are simply an afternoon ritual of Mississippians entertaining (and hurting) themselves to get the best seats for the nightly show,” Risher explained.
Chair races at the Neshoba fair.
            Want to see what the chair races looks like? Here’s a clip.
            According to Risher, cabins get all lit up and decorated for the event.
            “Years and years ago, National Geographic did a story on the Neshoba County Fair,” she said. “It's changed since then — for one thing, people have a lot more access to twinkly lights!”
            Just don’t forget it’s still Mississippi in July.
            “Those lights don't fool me,” Risher said. “I know how hot the fair is.”

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