Everyone pitches in at mealtime at Cabin 54
Friday, July 25, 2014 1:00 PM
James and Kim Mars have been married for 22 years. With four children - Mary Lea, Sam, and twins, Fent and Abe - as well as two grandchildren and another on the way, the Mars have a bevy of entertainment each year at the Neshoba Fair.
Kim anticipates Fair week because other than vacations, it's the most time they get to spend with Mary Lea and Sam and their families.
Having grown up going to the Fair, Kim has experienced Fair life for as long as she can remember.
"My parents always had a cabin. I just grew up going and our kids have too. I've never missed a Fair. I love going to the shows," Kim said.
Their children have never missed a Fair either.
With a cabin that sleeps over 35 people, there are many mouths to feed. Kim says each family brings three desserts for the week and then each family selects a night to cook. Sunday and Thursday nights, everyone pitches in to help prepare the meals.
From chicken spaghetti, hamburgers, Peggy's famous fried chicken and vegetables, enchiladas, and chicken and dumplings, the foods at the Mars family cabin are always delicious and plentiful.
A family tradition, Kim enjoys is the horse races.
"We used to race horses, but now we just enjoy watching the races," she said.
While the horse races might be entertaining, Kim actively participates in a more serious "Fair" race.
"Cheryl Mars and I do the chair races," she said. "It's serious business. Cheryl mans the gate while Tyler Moore and I run with the chairs."
Sitting around with family and enjoying the storytelling and being together is what makes the Fair complete for the Mars crew.
"Our family is really funny, so there is always laughter. I look forward to not being in a rush to get anywhere and being able to watch all of the kids running around," Kim said.
With four generations under one roof for a week, there is never a shortage of entertainment.
With one large open room, all four generations share sleeping quarters in the Mars' cabin.
"There's playpens now and more people," Kim said. "By day two, we have stuff strewn everywhere and people coming in and out at all hours of the night. It's just part of the Fair. You can't experience the Fair in just one day. You have to stay to get the full family effect."
However, this year will be a different Fair than all of the ones previous. One of the Mars' family members will not be present.
"James' sister, Miriam, passed away this year. She loved the Fair, and she loved cooking for everyone. This will be a hard year for us all without Miriam," Kim said.
Avid Ole Miss fans, Kim says all members of the Mars family travel to watch the Ole Miss games in the fall.
"We travel as a pack. We love our Rebels! Everybody supports everybody. Like any other family, we might fight like cats and dogs, but we stick together," she said.
While the Mars family has a long legacy of attending the Fair, Kim said the greatest of legacies is one passed down by James' father, Mont.
"No matter if you're rich, poor, black or white, Mont believes you should treat everyone the same. You treat people with compassion and everyone is always welcomed by Mont. He has been that way since I first met him, and he believes everyone else should be that way, too. He has passed those beliefs down," said Kim.
With the anticipation of a new grandchild in September, Kim said their family continues to grow and change. Her family is her greatest joy and what she is most proud of.
The Mars family is rich in traditions and full of love and laughter, and Kim looks forward to many more years of it all.
Beefy Jalapeno Corn Bread
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup self-rising corn meal
1 cup milk
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 (8 ounce) package sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 teaspoon. salt
1/2 teaspoon. soda
1 (17ounce) can cream style corn
1 large onion, chopped
2-4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Combine corn meal, flour, milk, eggs, salt, soda, corn and jalapeno peppers in a bowl; mix and set aside. Sauté ground beef; onion and bell pepper until lightly browned; drain thoroughly and set aside. Thoroughly grease a 10 ½ inch iron skillet, pour half of corn meal batter into skillet. Sprinkle evenly with beef mixture, then cheese. Pour remaining batter over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 6-8 servings
Dawn's Pound Cake
3 cups sugar
3 cups plain flour
3 sticks butter
8 ounce cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla (maybe a little more)
Combine sugar and better. Add cream cheese and eggs. Add flour and then vanilla, mixing well.
Bake 15 minutes at 350-then 1 hour 45 minutes at 275 degrees.
4 cups torn croissants
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine croissant pieces and pineapple in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Combine eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring well. Pour over bread mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Hot Reuben Dip
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup well drained sauerkraut, chopped
1/2 pound cooked lean corned beef, finely chopped
2 teaspoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 (6 ounce) package shredded Swiss cheese (1 and ½ cups)
Rye crackers or rye Melba rounds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine all ingredients, except crackers. Transfer to a lightly greased 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Bake, covered, 30 minutes or until edges bubble. Uncover and bake 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm with crackers.
Cheesy Black-eyed Pea Dip
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter
1 (16 ounce loaf) process cheese spread, cubed
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 (15.8 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained
Saute onions and garlic in margarine. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add peppers, tomatoes and black-eyed peas. Heat thoroughly. Serve in a chafing dish with toast points.
*Toast Points-take one loaf of thinly sliced white bread. Trim edges and cut each piece into four triangles. Place on cookie sheet and toast for 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until crisp.