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Fair going 'retro,' to focus on agriculture

SOUTHAVEN — The Mid-South Fair is returning to its agricultural roots.

People at last year’s fair told him they want to see livestock, board president Michael Doyle told The Commercial Appeal.

“I am a proponent of livestock but I deal with a bunch of brilliant city people on our board and they don’t understand that the fair has got to smell like a fair,” he said. “I show horses, and I told them that if I have to bring that smell from the barn with me, we are going to have it planted around so it smells like a fair. But they saw fit, and we are reintroducting livestock.”

He said well over 70,000 people went to the 2012 fair — the largest attendance in the four years it’s been in DeSoto County.

“Our attendance is going to grow as we listen to what the people want,” Doyle said.

The Landers Center in Southaven doesn’t have as much space for animals as did the Fairgrounds in Memphis, but there will be sheep, cattle, goats and poultry, Doyle said.

“We’re not inviting professional livestock exhibitors,” Doyle said. “We are inviting 4-H and Future Farmers of America, which is so big down here.”

Another tradition continues: it will be the 60th year for the youth talent contest that helped launch the careers of Elvis Presley and Justin Timberlake.

The fair will run Sept. 20-29. It’s scheduled in Southaven through 2014. Fair and Landers Center officials said they hope to work out another long-term contract after that.

New entertainment this year will include the Flying K9’s show with rescue dogs trained to perform acrobatic stunts; a NASCAR model racing tournament, a dodgeball tournament, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and a sacred music sing-off competition for fair-goers.

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