Emily Stinson's only missed one Fair;
the year she was in Prague
Friday, July 26, 2013 11:30 AM
Occupation and what it entails:
I'm an instructor in the English Department at Mississippi State University, where I teach a variety of courses, including composition, Intro to Literature, British literature, honors and accelerated English, and academic writing for graduate students.
Tell us about your family:
My parents are Mike and Leah Stinson. I have one sister, Briana Petty, who is married to Taylor Petty; one brother, Walton Stinson; one nephew, Banks Petty; and a future sister-in-law, Brittany Robinson.
What are your hobbies and favorite past times?
My hobbies include writing short stories, painting, playing guitar and piano, reading, and collecting postcards and vinyl records. Some of my favorite past times include driving cross-country, riding back roads on sunny summer days, Sunday Fundays with friends, and going to concerts to hear great live music.
How long have you been coming to the Fair?
I've been at every Fair since I was born except one. In 2010 I spent the month of July in Prague (Czech Republic) co-teaching a creative writing course, and I didn't get back to the U.S. until the Saturday after the Fair.
It turns out it was quite a significant Fair to miss since my best friend, Jessica Long Pickering (who I stay with at the Fair every year), got engaged!
Tell us about the cabin you are staying in:
My family doesn't have a cabin at the Fair, but for the past 19 years I've stayed with Jessica Long Pickering and the best "adoptive" Fair family ever at the Mont Mars cabin (#54) on the Square.
I love the Mars's so much, and despite their ever-growing family, they've always found a bed for me to sleep in the last week of July, and for that, I'm forever grateful.
What are some of your favorite memories of the Fair growing up as a child?
I'm sure the Midway was a blast when I was growing up, but what I remember most about the Fair as a child is the joy I'd get from the simplest things, like winning a game of roll-a-ball or buying a Lindsey's Lemonade (extra sweet) and either nachos or a bag of cotton candy with allowance money I'd saved up.
I also really loved going to my friend Lauren Turner's cabin on the Square at night to watch people dance at the Pavilion.
What do you like best about the Fair now?
Well, I still love an extra sweet Lindsey's Lemonade and a bag of cotton candy, but what I like most about the Fair now is catching up with friends I don't get to see often. Unlike Christmastime, where I may see a friend here or there, the Fair puts us all together in one place for an entire week. That's something people who aren't from Neshoba County don't really get to experience and another reason why the Fair is so special.
What events or happenings do you attend each year at the Fair and why?
One thing I never miss is the horse races. Every afternoon from Sunday to Friday, you can find me at the Stribling cabin on the track, cheering the horses and jockeys on. Afterwards, I walk over to the Virginia Perry Williams cabin and watch the other big race of the day: the chair race. I bet I've seen over 100 chair races, but I'm still amazed by the speed and precision of it every single time it happens.
What are some of your favorite "family traditions" at the Fair?
One of my favorite family traditions is Sunday and Thursday "Big Lunch" at the cabin. The food is always so good. My other favorite tradition is late-night porch talks, where everyone sits around and catches up on the day's happenings.
What aspects of the Fair do you hope will never change?
Midway rides will come and go, families will grow, and cabins will be torn down and rebuilt, but the one thing I hope will never change is the spirit of the Fair.
Fifty to a hundred years from now, I hope that people in Neshoba County will still be keeping time by the Fair ("Before the Fair," "After the Fair," "During the Fair"), that children will still believe the Fair is as amazing and magical as Santa Claus, and that adults-with a gleam in their eyes-will still be willing to try and explain this place to a stranger who asks, "What is the Fair?"
What significant events have happened in your life since you left Philadelphia?
In 2008 I moved from Mississippi to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I lived for four years while working on my PhD in English and Creative Writing at Western Michigan University.
While at WMU, I also taught English and creative writing classes and served as Editor-in-Chief of Third Coast Magazine, a national literary magazine that publishes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama.
After graduation, I moved back to Mississippi and accepted a job teaching at my alma mater, Mississippi State University. While Michigan is a beautiful state-one that I encourage everyone to visit, especially during the summer months-I'm glad to be back in the South, back in Mississippi, and closer to home.