Hot and sticky, muddy and one of the best times of my life.

That's how I would describe my first Neshoba County Fair experience in 2007. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I had always heard from my cousins how much fun they have and I decided to try it out two years ago. I liked it so much that I returned last year and am looking forward to attending for my third time this year.

To get the full effect of the fair, it's a must to stay in a cabin. My aunt's family has a cabin and I can't imagine spending time at the fair with anyone else. I'm not a big breakfast eater during the week and some weekends I might fix myself some shake and pour pancakes. But at the fair, they do it right.

The smell of crispy bacon is a great way to wake up. No one cares if your hair is a mess or your pajamas are mismatched just as long as you're down to eat and visit with the family.

Some may have stayed up dancing at the square or playing mexican dominoes on the porch until midnight ... but somehow all come together to enjoy a big breakfast together. Usually the mornings are pretty quiet at the cabin. I think it's one of my favorite times to go out on the porch and swing. There aren't too many people stirring around at that time of the morning.

Depending on what day it is, there is usually something going on at the pavilion. Of course, the horse races and the chair races are a favorite for many people. I have never participated in the chair races but there really isn't a bad seat there. The entertainment is always a favorite. My first time to hear Trace Adkins was at the fair and let me tell you - he put on a great show. I'm excited about seeing Little Big Town this year.

A favorite for my cousins is the daily visit to the midway. The rides are thrilling and usually a stuffed animal — or even a real animal — is won as a prize. They have been known to bring back a bunny and goldfish. Usually while the kids are riding the rides or playing the games, I walk over to visit with some friends of mine from Jackson. The fair is a place where you visit with friends that you haven't seen since the last fair and the best part is - they never turn anyone away. It's like a big reunion. I love to look at pictures of the newest additions to families and, of course, partaking in some of their finest desserts while reminiscing.

If you like to eat, you do not miss dinner. Ask anyone and they will tell you their dinner menu for the week. It's usually planned out way before the fair even begins. From spaghetti night to steak and potatoes night, if you go to bed hungry it's your own fault.

And just like the way I start my mornings off, I like to end the day swinging on the porch. Unlike the mornings, there is always something to be heard — from the music from the square, neighbors laughing and kids playing in the lane.

The last two years I have been it has rained at least two days and with the Mississippi red clay it gets pretty muddy. You usually leave the fair with a hint of red. It may be on your shoes, your clothes but it's always on your vehicle. No matter what color your vehicle is when you get to the fair ... it's gonna leave red!

I look forward to seeing everyone at Mississippi's Giant Houseparty this year.



Joy Henson is editor of 393 Magazine. The latest edition is out in stands now. E-mail Henson at jhenson393mag.com.

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