Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Recollections of the Itawamba County Fair

Growing up in rural Itawamba County, one annual event looked forward to by citizens, young and old alike, was the county fair. The Itawamba County Fair was held at the county fairgrounds along the old concrete Bankhead Highway under the hill west of the Fulton business district.

The annual fair was truly an enchanting and exciting place. Amid the sounds of the screaming and laughing children bobbing up and down on the horses of the musical carousel and the barkers enticing leisurely strollers to pick up a duck, or pop a balloon, the smells of cotton candy and corn dogs permeated the air. It was a time when thousands of county folks congregated under the hill in Fulton.

Perhaps the most visited attraction at the county fair was the exhibit hall. The large old whitewashed wooden structure with its creaky plank floors housed the best of Itawamba County agricultural products and goods. The displays were created with care by the various Rural Community Development Councils, farmers and housewives. Beautiful perfect Itawamba grown vegetables, canned chow chow in vivid greens and yellows, jellies, jams, beautiful flower arrangements of bachelor buttons and zinnias, and big beautiful cakes and pies filled the massive exhibit hall. It was simply a sight to behold.

The Itawamba County Fair as I remember it back from the early 1960s had been around quite a while - at least 40 years or so. It had humble beginnings back during 1925 when a group of Fulton citizens got together and organized the Itawamba County Fair. Below is a newspaper article from the October 1, 1925 edition of the Itawamba County News detailing the first ever Itawamba County Fair:

Many Exhibits and Much Interest
Itawamba County One Day Fair

People of the County Show Interest in Fair.
Crowd Attended.
Quality of Exhibits
Equal to that of any Fair

Itawamba County’s first county fair proved a much greater success than was expected by anyone. Hundreds of exhibits were placed on display and widespread interest was shown by everyone present. The people of this county are ready and willing to cooperate and work toward anything that would be expected to bring about better farming conditions.

The exhibit of dairy cattle had some of the most select animals that will be found any where. Something like thirty head of Jerseys were on exhibit.

The exhibit of poultry proved one of the most interesting exhibits of the day. Half dozen or more breeds of chickens were entered. From these exhibits it seems that Itawamba is well adapted to poultry raising and if we had some one to urge poultry raising our county would be a banner one.

The Home Economics department had numerous A-1 exhibits in canned goods, cookeries, needle-work, and other home products. Much comment was head about these exhibits.

One individual exhibit that the people paid compliments to was the general exhibit of field crops by Mrs. Comer. This exhibit contained five kinds of hay, potatoes, peanuts, and many other field crops and home products. Other splendid individual exhibits was the exhibit of vegetables by B.A. Brumley, the exhibit of farm products by Bud Burch and the exhibit of the I.A.H.S. which was housed in a hut built from corn stalks.

The judges of the exhibits were specialists, Mr. S.B. Durham of Tupelo, and Miss Massey of A and M College. Mr. R.S. Wilson head of extension work in Mississippi was speaker of the day. He was very much surprised and entheusied over our county fair and especially urged our need of a leader and worker for the farming interests of our county.

Prize winners were as follows:

Best general exhibit of farm products: Mrs. Comer, $12
Best Ten Ears of Corn: V.M. Scott, $3
Best Stalk of Corn: Trannie Bowen, $2
Best Stalk of Cotton: J.E. Dulaney, $2
Best exhibit of hay crops: E.J. H ale, $3
Best five stalks of sorghum: J.E. Ritter, $2
Best Duroc Jersey Gilt: J.W. Gurley, $4
Best Polan China Gilt: Bud Burch, $4
Best Pen of Leghorn Pullets: J.E. Sandlin: $2
Best Pen of Plymouth Rock Pullets: $Mrs. T.A. Burch, $2
Best Pen of Rhode Island Red Pullets: T.J. Spencer, $2
Best Pen of White Wyandotts: Dillion McNiece, $2
Best Pen of Lace Wyandotts: Mrs. D.W. Brown, $2
Best Jersey Cow and Calf: Dr. N.W. Nanney, $15
Best Jersey Cow: D.W. Brown, $15
Best Jersey Heifer: I.L. Sheffield, $10
Best Jersey Calf under One Year: J.M. Brown, $5
Best Jersey Calf under 6 months: Mrs. M.C. Benson, $5
Best Loaf of Bread: Mrs. Lula Harrison, $2
Best Rolls: Mrs. Eugene Gaither, $1
Best Cornmeal Muffins:Mrs. C. Wallace, $1
Best Cornmeal Muffins 2nd Place: Mrs. T.J. Tandy
Best Loaf Cake: Mrs. T.J. Tandy, $3
Best Loaf Cake 2nd Place: Mrs. A.M. Carpenter
Best Two-Crust Pie: Mrs. C. Wallace, $2
Best Meringue Pie: Mrs. T.J. Tandy, $2
Best Meringue Pie 2nd Place: Mrs. Loraine Maxcy
Best Collection of Canned Goods: Mrs. F.M. Carpenter, $10
Best Jar of Tomatoes: Mrs. F.M. Carpenter, $1
Best Jar of Peaches: Mrs. F.M. Carpenter, $1
Best Jar of Peaches 2nd Place: Mrs. B.A. Brumley
Best Jar of Beans: Mrs. F.M. Carpenter, $1
Best Jar of Beans 2nd Place: Mrs. J.T. Gray
Best Collection of Jelly: Mrs. R.E. Isbell, $4
Best Collection of Jelly 2nd Place: Mrs. Lee Graham
Best Lazy Daisy Embroidery: Mrs. Troy Pate, $2
Best Lazy Daisy Embroidery 2nd Place: Miss Robbie Graham
Best Solid Embriodery: Mrs. T.D. Harden, $2
Best Solid Embroidery 2nd Place: Mrs. G.E. Sheffield
Best Piece Tatting: Mrs. Geo. Bonds, $2
Best Piece Tatting 2nd Place: Miss Phenie Cromeans
Best Piece Crochet: Mrs. Eunice Comer, $2
Best Piece Crochet 2nd Place: Mrs. A.T. Cleveland
Best Dress Made by Girl under 12 years: Miss Annie Louis Toomer, $4
Best Dress Made by Girl under 12 years 2nd Place: Miss Ruth Wimbs
Best Pound of Butter: Mrs. F.G. Martin, $1
Best Pound of Butter 2nd Place: Mrs. J.E. Burch
Best Dozen Eggs: Mrs. G.W. Mullins, $1
Best Exhibit of Vegetables: B.A. Brumby, $10
Best Exhibit of Farm Products: J.E. Burch, $12

County fair photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC, Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection

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