Jessica, Jackson and Blake Pickering
Jessica, Jackson and Blake Pickering
There's nothing like experiencing the Fair for the first time and for many Fairgoers who have been attending all of their life, making that first time trip down to Neshoba County's main event is something that begins shortly after birth.

Cabin 54, the Mars/Chalmers cabin located in Founders Square, has indoctrinated many babies into Fair life over the years. For a cabin that can sometimes sleep up to 40 guests, this year's experience will welcome yet another new addition to the clan.

His name is Jackson Pickering. Mother, Jessica Pickering, has attended the Fair all of her life and has 31 years of memories and traditions she's ready to pass on to baby Jackson.

"This will be my first Fair with a child," she said. "He turned six months old recently. I grew up with so many cousins and remember playing in the dust and the mud and getting dirty.

"When he's older, I just want him to be able to run out there and go get as muddy as he wants because it's the Fair. Who cares!" she said.

The water hose is always nearby for a quick rinse off.

Jessica wants her son to grow up in Neshoba County, playing with his cousins and not having a care in the world at the Fair.

"That's what I remember as being the best," Jessica said.

But baby Jackson has a long way to go before he can get muddy. Until then, Jessica and her husband Blake, will be the new "Pack-n-Play on the block" this year and now it's their time to experience parenthood as Fair-goers.

The new mother explained that for years she has always had to tiptoe up the stairs of the cabin, careful to not wake the carefree babies sleeping in the room above. However, this year she gets to partake in making sure sleepy heads get all the naps they need after a long day at the Fair.

"We have a large, growing cabin, we all pile in there, and sleep close to 40 people at times in one big room upstairs and we have double bunk beds.

"These days most of them have a Pack-n-Play at the end of the bed because we have so many babies."

This year there are seven children three years or younger at the cabin.

"My cousin William has a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old. My other cousin, Adam has four children. They have a set of twins that are 2- years-old and they have a 3-year old and an older child who's 7 or 8-years-old. My other cousin Mary Lee has a 2-year-old and then there's mine."

Visitors to the cabin find the upstairs filled with Pack-n-Plays!

"If you walk upstairs you have to first check to see if a baby is napping before you can turn on the light or speak," Jessica laughed. "It's going to get loud and we're just going to make the best of it and let them play, get dirty, and just have fun."

However, trying to keep the noise at a minimum while the kids are sleeping isn't the only way Cabin 54 maintains a baby friendly environment.

Installing baby gates along the front porch is one way of keeping up with the little ones, while another way is to simply write their cabin number on their arms just in case curiosity gets the best of little explorers.

"We put up gates last year. My husband built gates so that the whole front porch was gated in so that they could just play but with the location of our cabin they can just play out front and we feel pretty safe that none of them are going to be gone."

"There are so many kids around in that area anyway that you just write '54' on their arm with a permanent marker and let them play, somebody will return them," she laughed. "It's kind of like when you go to the race track and you see all the horses with their numbers, it's like that. All of our kids have '54' written on them."

While Jessica is excited about little Jackson's first trip to the Fair, she's also looking forward to some adult time as well and if tradition holds true for their family then that means watching the horse races everyday and placing bets on who wins the Miss Neshoba County contest.

This may be considered adult time, but that doesn't mean older kids can't join in on the action. This isn't your average everyday betting game, if you're old enough to draw a name out of a hat or throw a dart, then you're old enough to win a stash of cash if you guess the next pageant queen.

"We always pull for the Miss Neshoba County Pageant and we all put in $20," Jessica said.

"Usually one of the kids wins, and we get sad because we ask ourselves, 'What are they going to do with all that money,"' she laughed.

"But we used to throw darts instead. We would get the contestants pictures from the paper and throw darts instead of pulling the names out like we do now.

"However, we always bet on the pageant and we all go to the horse races pretty much every day."

All-in-all, no matter how many things change over the years, or how big the Pickering family gets, one thing that's for sure is that Cabin 54 will always hold a lot of love, and that in itself is what sets the Neshoba County Fair apart from all others.

"Life would be boring without the Fair, that's for sure. It's something we look forward to every year, and what it's all about is family," Jessica said.



4-5 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

2 cans of cream of chicken soup

1 small light sour cream (8 ounce)

3 tablespoon poppy seeds

Reduced-Fat Ritz crackers

Butter Flavored Pam (non-stick spray)

Mix chicken, cream of chicken soup, 1 sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers, and light sour cream in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish. Crumble enough Ritz crackers to cover top of casserole. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Spray top of casserole with Pam (very liberally).  Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes.



1 pound ground beef chuck

Ziti pasta

2 jars of Spaghetti Sauce (whatever variety you choose)

Provolone cheese slices

Shredded mozzarella cheese

1 package of reduced-fat cream cheese

Grated parmesan cheese            

Boil pasta. Cover bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with pasta. Cover that layer of pasta with slices of provolone cheese.  Spread softened cream cheese over the provolone cheese. Then, pour some spaghetti sauce over the cream cheese. Brown ground chuck. Pour browned ground chuck on top of the sauce. Next, sprinkle a light layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of pasta and another layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Pour more spaghetti sauce on top. Finally, cover top of casserole with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.



4 chicken breasts

Egg Beaters

Italian Bread Crumbs

Finely shredded parmesan cheese

Spaghetti Sauce or marinara

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Prepare a mixture of Italian bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Dip chicken breasts in olive oil, then in egg beaters. Next, roll the dipped chicken into the bread crump mixture.  Sauté the chicken in an iron skillet.  Place the chicken breasts into a casserole dish.  Cover with spaghetti sauce or marinara.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly). 


4-5 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 can Rotel

1 container of Philadelphia Cooking Cream (Santa Fe variety)

1 can Enchilada sauce

Flour tortillas

Shredded cheese

1 can of cream of chicken soup

Mix chicken, rotel, cream of chicken soup, Philadelphia Cooking Cream, a handful of shredded cheese, and 1/4 can of enchilada sauce into a large bowl.  Spoon mixture into tortilla.  Line a casserole dish with filled tortillas. Pour any remaining mixture on top of tortillas. Then, pour remaining enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.



8 ounces American Cheese, grated

1/2 cup skim milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

3 hard boiled eggs, diced

1/2 cup almonds, sliced


3 large cans asparagus

Crackers (crushed into crumbs) (enough to cover casserole)


Melt cheese in milk. Add cream of mushroom soup, eggs, almonds, and pimento. Pour over asparagus in casserole. Cover with cracker crumbs and dot with margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 8-10.



3/4 stick oleo

1 medium sized onion (chopped)

3/4 cup rice

1 can beef consommé

1 can water

Melt oleo in saucepan. Add chopped onions and sauté. In casserole dish, pour rice, sauted onions, can beef consommé, and can of water. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot.



2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers (or graham crackers)

1/2 cup finely chopped tasted and buttered almonds

1/3 cup melted margarine

Mix well and fit nicely into a 9" or 10" pie pan.

Bake until brown at 325 degrees.


Mix 1 can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk with 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, 1/2 cup lemon juice. Pour into cooled crust. Use whipped cream generously over top, then sprinkle some toasted, buttered, and chopped almonds over the top. Chill for 1 hour. Serve cold.



1 cup oleo

1 cup shortening

1 box brown sugar

1 cups oatmeal

1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons soda

1 cup pecans

1 cup coconut

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes

Cream oleo and shortening. Add brown sugar, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Sift and add flour, baking powder, soda; add oatmeal, chocolate chips, pecans, Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes and coconut. Use 1/4 cup measure for each cookie or an ice cream scoop. Put on ungreased cookie sheet (6 to a sheet). Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool 5 minutes and remove from sheet. Makes 30-40 cookies.