SOUTHAVEN, Mississippi — Sandra Jamison and Linda Gaulding brought their folding lawn chairs and had a ringside seat Wednesday morning for the World Famous Racing Pigs.
The two North Mississippi residents were making a day of it at the Mid-South Fair, part of their September routine since the fair's days in Memphis at the Fairgrounds.
"Our seniors love it," Mid-South Fair Executive Director Jesse Johnson said of patrons like Jamison, of Independence, Mississippi, and Gaulding, or Holly Springs, Mississippi. "They come out and stay all day long."
Wednesday was Senior American Day and School Day, and both groups were well represented as the fair's 159th edition reached the halfway point of its 10-day run at Landers Center in Southaven.
The fair doesn't release attendance figures while the event is in progress, but Mid-South Fair President Michael Doyle said numbers seem a bit off even though revenue is "way up."
"We think it's a malfunction in our scanning system," Doyle said of the attendance count, "because we had a count (Tuesday) night but there were more people here than that. And revenue is way up, so we're thinking, 'how's that?'"
Last year's final count was about 94,000.
Doyle also took a swipe at the recently completed Delta Fair, which completed its run at Agricenter International in Memphis Sept. 13.
"I think the negative publicity from the other fair has hurt numbers a bit," Doyle said in reference to a fight that occurred between a group of patrons and a fair worker. "I think people are figuring out we're the safe fair."
He said Southaven police combined with private security have kept a close watch on the event and have helped ensure traffic congestion is kept to a minimum.
For Wednesday's senior and school-aged patrons, security wasn't the primary topic of discussion; they were more concerned with what to eat, ride or view next.
Children gathered in the tents just off the midway for the FARMtastic exhibit were learning where the food they eat comes from before it arrives on grocery store shelves. The exhibit also teaches about other aspects of nature.
Julie White with the Mississippi State University Extension Service said the exhibit will visit seven sites this year, including the Mid-South Fair and the Mississippi State Fair next week in Jackson.
A group of Tate County home-schoolers visited the display Wednesday. Eli Magness, 16, a home-school student from Coldwater, Mississippi, led a display teaching younger visitors about the porous nature of wood.
"It's a good learning opportunity," Magness, involved in 4-H Club activities for more than 10 years, said of FARMtastic.
The fair continues through Sunday, when it will wrap up with a 10 a.m. ecumenical worship service inside Landers Center hosted by Brown Missionary Baptist Church of Southaven and Life Fellowship Church of Southaven and Olive Branch.