DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - They're taking back the Mid-South Fair. Organizers say this is their year. It's the 156th anniversary of the event, set to kickoff this Friday in DeSoto County.
It's been three years since it left Memphis, they feel like it's finally getting back to where it should be. Attendance numbers dropped drastically when the fair moved to Mississippi.
It's been managed by a private company ever since, but leaders went a different direction this year. They're taking charge, and expecting a big pay off.
"The Mid-South Fair is 156 years old. Find me anything that's been around 156 years," says the fair's board vice president Michael Doyle. The fair has seen its share of struggles the last three of those years. Doyle hopes the worst has passed.
"We got our fair back, that's the big difference, we got our fair back," he says. "We're doing this for the love of the community to see this tradition continue. This is the original, the authentic."
Trucks are slowly moving in to the Landers Center, prepping for this Friday's opening. Doyle says organizers control their own destiny.
"We've greatly increased our rides. We have a lot more food vendors, probably two maybe three times the food vendors." And he promises more to see and do.
"Motocross, MMA. We have wrestling. Our thoughts and prayers go to Jerry Lawler, who was coming. But who knows? There's still an outside chance he can attend, hope you can feel better Jerry," Doyle says.
They've also brought back music, something that's been missing since the move. It won't be a complete return to the fair's glory days though.
"We're sorely missing our livestock segment and working to bring that back," he says, as well as horticulture and arts and crafts. The biggest thing he wants to return are the crowds of people.
"I haven't been since it was here, since it was at the fair grounds," says Avery Long. "We've definitely thought about it… It's not that far, but it is a little bit of a drive." But it's one drive Long says she will make this year. "We love the rides and stuff. After the Delta Fair, we couldn't get enough so we'll be back."
The fair runs for ten days from September 21-30. Doyle says the Landers Center is the fair's home. Right now organizers have no plans to move it again.
They're working on ways to add those exhibits that are still missing to the existing location.