Things to eat: candy apples, chicken-on-a-stick and funnel cakes.

Things to enjoy: fun rides, interesting exhibits and live entertainment.

That can only mean one thing — the annual Queen City Fair is here!

Now in its sixth year, Meridian’s family fun tradition returns today with new rides, new eats and a promise of even more excitement, said Len McRae, fair organizer.

“Each year, we get bigger and better with more attendance and more attractions,” McRae said.

Held at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center, gates open today at 4 p.m. and admission is free the first hour. Rides will be $1 throughout the evening.

“The weather’s supposed to be good this week,” McRae said as crews worked fervently Sunday setting up rides and booths. “We’re further along in setting up than we’ve ever been at this point; we’re in good shape.”

In fact, this year’s fair seems to have more of a sense of familiarity, he said.

“Each year, it gets easier and things are really starting to gel,” McRae said. “Setting up runs a lot smoother and people really seem to enjoy what we have to offer.”

This year’s fair will feature several new events, including The Jabali Acrobats of Kenya.

“Their show is awesome; they’re really, really good,” McRae said.

The performance has been described as “the link between athletics and the arts.” Acrobatics, contortions, tumbling, human pyramids, and chair balancing skills alternate to dance, with the Congo Snake Dance, the Flaming Limbo Bar Dance, Skip Rope Footwork techniques and comedy to electrifying music. Audience participation is always included.

Other new attractions: a haunted house set up by The Meridian Downtown Association, and a cheerleader exhibition by Extreme Cheerleading.

“We’re hoping the cheerleader event will evolve into a regional competition,” McRae said.

Making a return appearance will be The Arneberg’s Super Dog Show, a traveling troupe of more than 15 dogs that perform circus-type feats. The canines have been presented from coast-to-coast in North America, as well as Japan, China, South America, Thailand and Malaysia.

Other fair attractions include a blacksmith demonstration, a tomahawk thrower, a display from NASA, a petting zoo, a milk maker and an antique engines and tractors presentation.

Music entertainment also will be featured, including local talents such as the band ESCAPE, gospel groups Young People of Praise (YPOP) and Pearly Gates, and a Michael Jackson impersonator. Also, a Little Miss Queen City Fair will be crowned and a Color The Fair Contest will be featured.

The fair also will feature three new rides, including The Cliffhanger. McRae said the midway is “slightly larger’ than the previous year with fun rides and traditional fair activities.

And what fair would be complete without food?

“We’ve got a wide variety of foods — from carnival venders as well as local venders,” he said. “We try to make sure we don’t overlap too much with the types of foods served.”

Traditional fair food — corn dogs, Polish sausages, cotton candy, popcorn, candy apples and chicken-on-a-stick — as well as favorites such barbecue, steak sandwiches, pizza and other favorites will be available at various booths. And for those hankering for something a little spicy — several types of Cajun foods will be available.



WANT TO GO?



What: Sixth Annual Queen City Fair

When: Today through Sunday

Where: Lauderdale County Agri-Center

Admission: $5; children under 6, free

Parking: $2 per vehicle. Members of the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi will conduct parking; a portion of the proceeds will go to the club. For more information, call (601)

553-0971 or e-mail lenmcrae@comcast.net

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