PHILADELPHIA, MS (WLOX) - With apologies to Jimmy Buffett, it was my first look, and baby, that's all that it took. I'm talking about the Neshoba County Fair.
In my 20 years of running the assignment desk at WLOX, I was used to sending people to cover the fair, but never myself. That changed this year. I was assigned the story, and I am grateful for that assignment.
When I arrived, I first saw the harness racing track. Then I took a short walk to the Founder's Square, and that's when I felt like I took at trip back in time. Cottages and cabins were everywhere you looked. Some were as spartan as the frontier days, others were bathed in luxury.
There were people swinging on front porches, children playing under the shade. It was serene and beautiful. There were no carnival rides, no games of chance, just good old fashioned visiting among friends.
And of course, the political speeches. If you don't speak at Neshoba, then you haven't arrived as a politician in Mississippi. If you do speak, and don't do well, let's just say you might want to start looking for another line of work. The fair people take their politics seriously.
But what struck me more than anything was the incredible friendliness of the people. Here I was, some uppity journalist from the "Big City" invading their territory, trying to dig up a story. They all welcomed me with open arms and doorways. Several people invited me in for a look around their cabins. Most offered food and water, or something a bit more stiff. But I was working, so forget that idea.
Never before have I seen more smiles and kindly gestures than at the Neshoba County Fair. I felt privileged to be a part of it, at least for a few hours. I was so impressed with the visit, that I might just take off a couple of days next year and attend the fair, not as a journalist, but as a tourist.
Hats off to the people of Neshoba County. You really know how to throw a party.