At age 100, Eschol Lewis has vivid Fair memories
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:00 AM
Eschol Lewis fondly remembers the taffy she used to get on the first day of the Neshoba County Fair.
Lewis, 100-years-old as of May 15, is one of the few remaining people that remembers when the Neshoba County Fair only consisted of a handful of cabins and no one had electricity.
"I've been coming to the Fair most all those years but there have been a few years I've missed," she said.
As a benchmark to let people know how old she is, Lewis tells everyone that the Pavilion (on Founder's Square) was built the same year she was born.
"I don't think it [the Pavilion] has had very much repair since the dressing rooms were added behind it," she said. "The old seats and everything else is still there."
Lewis remembers when her family's cabin, a two-story structure built by her father and uncle, was on Founder's Square.
"There was an old man named Barm who would make taffy candy for the Fair," she said with a smile.
Lewis added that as a small child, getting a sack of taffy candy was the first thing she did every year.
"It would've lasted me the whole week but I had seven brothers," recalled Lewis with a laugh, noting that Barm eventually stopped attending.
"That was some of the happiest times of my life. It was our vacation."
The Neshoba County Fair in those early years was a great deal different from how it is now.
I never thought it would get as big as it has, Lewis said.
While there was still horse racing and musical entertainment, the midway was vacant and there wasn't even the annual Arts and Crafts Show (more commonly known as the Flea Market).
Anyone that has ever attended the Fair in the past is aware of the importance of keeping food fresh.
Leftovers from Saturday morning can easily be turned in Saturday's lunch if the food is kept fresh.
But Lewis remembers a time when no one had a refrigerator at the Fair.
Lewis recalled how her mother would bring chickens in a coop and prepare the birds to eat while on the Fairgrounds because they didn't have a way of keeping food fresh.
Then one year her father, who ran a sawmill, built a box with a lining of sawdust and a plank over that.
"That what we had to put our ice and food in," she said.
Lewis and her family continued attending the Fair, going year's without missing a single on until something would come up.
Taking a minute to think Lewis said that she has attended 90 Neshoba County Fairs, only missing 10 in her 100 years.
After my mother died my mother my father just lost interest," she said.
Lewis, who now stays at Cabin 145A with the next of her family including her great grand-daughter Caroline Cheatham, says there are a few things she misses from those early days.
"My mother always saved a ham in the wintertime and she would fix it and smoke it," she said fondly. "It would be so good on Prayer Morning when you'd get that smell as it was frying."
Lewis added that although you can still have fried ham at the Fair, "it doesn't smell the same."
Nowadays, Lewis enjoys the musical entertainment the most, although she regrets that she hasn't been able to attend for the past three years.
After 100 year and still going strong, Lewis continues to make out to the Fairgrounds with her family.
"I've always enjoyed coming out here," she said.