There is nothing like the fair.
The pretty lights of the midway, the calls of "Step on the scale! I'll guess your weight or you'll win a prize!"
There's that giant stuffed teddy bear you don't quite know what to do with, the sweet smell of wonderfully sinful fair food, and the exhilaration of watching it all from your seat at the top of the ferris wheel. When all of these little experiences come together, they create a feeling that you can't get anywhere but at the fair.
In Meridian, there's an added bonus because the fair begins in late September each year. When it gets here, you know autumn is not far behind, and the changing seasons add a certain electricity to the air.
This year's Queen City Fair, to be held from Sep. 28 to Oct. 4 at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center on Hwy. 19, is no different. It will feature all the attractions Meridianites have to come to expect from the fair, and a few new ones to boot.
One returning attraction that has become more popular each year, said fair organizer Len McRae, is the Little Miss Queen City Fair Pageant. This is the seventh year for the pageant, and McRae said the number of participants has increased greatly each year.
Part of what makes the pageant popular, he said, is that there is not too much emphasis put on winning, and it is especially good for girls who are thinking about getting into the pageant circuit but want to stick their toes in the water first.
"It's a good little practice run for them," McRae said. "It's designed to be more fun than competitive. We try to take some of the competitive edge off of it."
The pageant is held Oct. 2 and has three different age groups — 2-4, 5-7, and 8-10. All girls within those age groups are eligible to enter the pageant. Entry forms, which must be received by Oct. 1, are available on the Web at www.queencityfair.net.
Another popular event returning this year is the "Meridian's Most Talented" contest. The contest is open to all types of talent, from juggling to singing, and all age groups.
The inclusiveness, McRae said, is part of what makes the contest popular.
"There's a lot of talent in this area but there's not an outlet for talent that you would find in a bigger market," said McRae. "Meridian's Most Talented is wide open in terms of type of talent with few exceptions."
Those exceptions: performances are not allowed to include vulgarity or hazardous materials like fire. The talent show is also not able to accommodate bands because of time constraints.
But fairgoers can still enjoy listening to bands at the fair. Wednesday night is the fair's Youth Nite, a concert featuring Christian bands "The Net Band" and "Refuge" that is especially popular with local church youth groups.
The talent show will be held Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. To learn more about the rules and entry requirements, visit www.queencityfair.net. The Youth Nite concert will be held Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. Fair entry must be purchased to attend, but there is no extra charge for the concert.
There is one more music-related event at the fair, but this one is created for gamers, too. On Sept. 29 the fair will host the Great RockBand Throwdown Contest. The best virtual singers, drummers, and guitarists in two age groups will be awarded prizes from Best Buy and Comcast Spotlight.
To enter the RockBand contest, submit an entry form by Sept. 28.
An event that is new to the fair this year is Rainforest Experience Live, and interactive exhibit aimed at kids. The exhibit is open every day and features live animals, comedy, a music show, and a magic show.
Of course, while people enjoy other activities at the fair, the rides on the midway are the main attraction.
This year's rides include The Zipper, which McRae said has been the most popular ride at fairs all over the country for decades, the Himalaya, Giant Wheel, Pharaoh's Fury, Bumper Cars, and the Sizzler, to name a few.
Rides for younger children will also be a part of the midway.
For those who prefer not to zoom around at high speeds and heights, there are plenty of other things to do. A petting zoo, pony rides, rock-climbing wall, blacksmith exhibit, archery demonstration, chain-saw sculpting demonstration, mule pull, and antique tractor show will all be there to entertain fairgoers.
The fair will be open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Gate admission is $6 and armbands are $20. Kids under 6 are admitted free.
For more information about the Queen City Fair, visit www.queencityfair.net or call Len McRae at (601)-934-4866.
There is nothing like the fair.
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