Jackson County Fair holds strong despite rumors

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The last day of the Jackson County Fair was packed with people enjoying one last day of rides.  It drew an especially big crowd because it was Super Sunday, which means twenty dollars buys an arm band, and an armband means unlimited rides.

"We were gonna go yesterday, but we heard there were armbands here. So that's a better deal," said 12-year-old Allison Stuart.

But fair management wasn't sure it would be so packed.  With such a tight economy, they weren't sure people would shell out the cash to go to the fair this year.  But something else worried them even more.

Emails circulated all over the county last week, warning people of potential gang violence at the fair Friday. The email spread to schools, hospitals and personal email accounts, seriously jeopardizing the fair on what should be its most popular night.

"I heard that there was gonna be a shooting out here," said Stuart.

She avoided the fair that night because of the threatening email.

"We didn't have anything happen Friday night, and yet we had emails sent all over Jackson County that could have hurt this fair tremendously," said Fair Association President Eddie Russell.

He took the threats seriously. In response to the rumors, 91 policemen came to the fair that night, including a K-9 unit.

And despite the emails, crowds poured into the fair.  The numbers are still uncertain, but fair officials think that even with the poor economy and threatening emails, the fair still made almost as much money as it did last year, which brought in record profits.

Russell says there's a reason people weather the hard times to make it back to the fair.

"I'm 54 years old, and it's a way of going back to your youth," Russell said. "Makes you young again for 8 or 9 days; then you're old again after that."

Most of the fair proceeds go toward Jackson County projects, including maintaining the fairgrounds.