Image: Tate Nations

The 161st Mississippi State Fair has announced dates for their 2020 event – October 7-18 – and safety protocols due to COVID-19.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson said his office will continue to monitor the situation closely and utilize the guidance of the Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC.

For now, all staff (midway and MDAC employees, contractors and vendors) will be required to wear masks and guests will be required to wear face coverings upon entry. Adult and child sized masks will be available if you arrive without one.

“Multitudes” of hand sanitation stations will be provided throughout the Fairgrounds and high touch areas and surfaces will be routinely sanitized as well.

All gates into the Fairgrounds will be equipped with one or more people with digital devices to account for visitors as they come and go to ensure the 200-people-per acre capacity is not violated.  Entrance will be denied if capacity is met.

The footprint of the Fair will be expanded so lines can be guided out of the Midway walking area to reduce congestion; lines will have six-foot markers to demonstrate social distancing; and there will also be a reduction in the quantity of vendors.

Outdoor music will be properly spaced to achieve social distance best practices; indoor events will be limited to 25 percent of occupancy; and livestock barns will be limited to access only by participants, family, and personnel engaged in the livestock shows.

The traditional “Senior American Day” program which features entertainment, health resources, medical screenings, and additional features for elderly Mississippians will not be held this year. Instead, an “All American Day” program of patriotic music and programing – which will also be live streamed for those at home who cannot attend – will take its place.

“The CDC advises that people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be higher risk for severe illness from Coronavirus,” Gipson noted. “Guests should evaluate their own risk in determining whether to attend. By coming to the Fair, you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with attendance.”

The fair features 105 acres of music and family fun on a mile-long midway including rides, games and live entertainment.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS TO NOTE:
▪ First Responders Appreciation Day will be held on Wednesday, October 7, and as a special thank you, the Mississippi Fairgrounds will be offering free admission to all law enforcement officers, first responders, firefighters, healthcare workers and medical professionals. Identification will be required at the gate.

▪ For the first time ever, the Fairgrounds will host the Genuine MS® Store, which will be open to the public and exhibit a variety of Genuine MS® items for purchase.

▪ Musical acts performing on the Budweiser Stage located on the Midway include Mustache the Band, Roots and Boots 90’s Electric Throwdown with Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye, Epic Funk Brass Band, Dirt Road Cadillac, Paul Porter and the Christianaires, U.S., Great White/Slaughter, Big Blues Explosion, Sean Kingston, Southern Komfort Brass Band, 601 Live and the Topher Brown Band. In addition, local acts will perform at the State Fair on the Trustmark Stage located on the Midway. All musical entertainment is free with regular fair admission.

▪ The 2020 State Fair will include the annual Horse, Mule and Pony Pulls in the Kirk Fordice Equine Center. The Horse Pull will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, with the Mule Pull immediately following. The Pony Pull will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 18.

▪ All American Day will be held on Wednesday, October 14, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will include musical entertainment by Jared Vardaman and Ed Meadows, as well as a speech by Commissioner Andy Gipson. As a special thank you to the military for their service, the Mississippi Fairgrounds will be offering free admission on All American Day to any active military. Identification will be required at the gate.

▪ This year, a new feature of the mile-long Midway will be the Timberworks Lumberjack Show featuring axe throwing, underhand and chopping, cross cut and hot sawing along with chainsaw carving. The Lumberjack Shows will take place daily throughout the duration of the Fair.

▪ Daily activities will take place throughout the 105 acres of the Mississippi Fairgrounds Complex. Children, and adults alike, will enjoy the Farm Bureau Petting Zoo Area and Pig Races, the 4-H and FFA Livestock Shows and will be wowed by the circus performers of the Great American Thrill Show brought to you by Clarion Ledger located at the Kid Zone. LOCALiQ’s Fetch-NFish will perform and dozens of vendors and exhibits will be available to the public, including an arts & crafts competition, food preservation, floral exhibits and an antique tractor show.

This is a developing story.