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State Fair vendors hope to make up losses

The 150th edition of the tradition-rich Mississippi State Fair isn’t quite over.

In an unprecedented move due to days of rainy weather, the fair will be extended through today. Gates will open at 11 a.m. this morning.

State Fair Commission executive director Billy Orr doesn’t know how many fair visitors to expect for the so-called “$2 Monday.”

“It’s really hard to tell whether we might have 5,000 or 60,000,” he said. “We drew about 207,000 over the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and should have a huge crowd today.”

North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) spokeswoman Amber Swedgan said the company hopes fairgoers take advantage of the sunny weather and $2 Monday.

“One more day of fun – without rain,” said Swedgan. “We’re happy to be able to offer folks discounted prices on admission, parking, rides and corn dogs. It’s a great value.”

The Ridgeland-based company provides attractions and rides for the State Fair and 10 of the top 50 fairs in the United States.

The decision to extend the fair by one day was an easy one, said Orr.

“We’ve had so many calls from folks that haven’t been able to enjoy the fair due to all the rain,” said Orr. “The weather will be great and I hope that everyone will come out and enjoy our $2 Monday special.”

Wet weather has plagued the fair since the Oct. 7 opening night. Officials said last week that attendance for the 2009 fair was down by approximately 40 percent from the previous year.

“Billy Orr met with (NAME CEO) Mike Williams and decided that extending one more day would be beneficial to everybody,” said Swedgan. “Our next date is in Mobile (Ala.), so logistically, an extra day in Jackson won’t have an effect on our schedule.”

Almost all of the vendors operating at this year’s fair have agreed to stay, said Orr.

“It’s not a hundred percent, but I’d say about nine out of 10 (vendors) want to have an extra day” to make up for lost revenue, he said.

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