In late spring of 1923, ninety-one years ago, after the Board of the Neshoba County Fair Association became aware that the Democratic primary had been scheduled for Tuesday, August 7, 1923, the Board then changed the dates of the upcoming Fair to July 30, 1923 to August 3, 1923, in order that the "politicos" could have one final chance to reach Mississippi voters.

The Grounds Committee reported that the grounds are in excellent condition, and the Grandstand Committee reported that plans were being worked out for the erection of an auditorium. Next, the Lights and Well Committees made "flattering" reports. Secretary John H. Huston advised that several bands from Water Valley to Gulfport, Mississippi, had filed proposals for the music contract. The secretary also ordered directors to contact school communities for "evening entertainment."

The Board then set the next meeting for June 1 and around June 30, 1923, with the latter date set for the purpose of selling concessions. In June 1923, the Lights Committee reported to the Association's Board that they had purchased a "Dinmo" and had contracted with Mr. A.C. Griffin, on a five-year agreement, to furnish the power to "pull said Dinmo."

The Board endorsed the purchase of the dynamo with the understanding that the committee would continue to install the light plant, one with a lighting capacity of 200 bulbs. In other matters, members requested that Mr. E.P. Donald "provide" fish, if possible, at the June 30, 1923 meeting. Final business included adding a root beer stand to the list of beverage stations, allowing the secretary to order buttons and ribbons for the fast approaching Fair, prohibiting boys from serving on the grounds if they are considered "nice" and providing all Confederate soldiers and their wives with complimentary tickets.

The Board conducted the last business of the May Board meeting when they named Clayton Rand as manager of stick ball games featuring the neighboring Choctaw Indians. The members also made Rand the custodian of the players on that Thursday and provided him $100 on their behalf for food, water and other provisions.

Fair Associations officers and directors, being community leaders, often had irons in other fires. The year 1923 was no exception as four Board members chose a field with which they were very familiar - politics! Association President and State Representative Brown Williams, Sr. opted to run for the seat representing the 17th Senatorial District (Leake and Neshoba Counties) against local attorney J.K. Gillis.

Secretary John Huston chose to run for Chancery Clerk of Neshoba County against three opponents - Joseph Eads Jolly, John D. Pettey and R.G. Moore. An endorsement in The Neshoba Democrat noted that, "As a testimony of the confidence and esteem with which he is held by our good people, he has been reelected secretary of the Neshoba County Fair Association often enough to have served in that capacity for 17 years."

Board member Fred "R.F." Hays, tossed his hat in the ring against John Leonard Posey, Abner E. Harbour and Charley Farish. Another director, A.J. Mayo, filed for the Beat Four Supervisor position against six other Neshoba County men. The Fair Directors established the concession auction, one of the last functions of the Association each year, for June 30, 1923.

Fair officers added two new concessions to the bidding process - a root beer booth (purchased by J.B. Turner's Drug and Jewelry Store for $8.00) and a hot dog stand (Boy Scouts of Philadelphia for $30.00). At the conclusion of the auction, the concession bidding brought $825.00 to the Fair's coffers.

The Board then also approved awards of $75.00 for the best entertainment, and $50.00 and $40.00 for second and third finishers, respectively. During the same meeting, the Association elected several individuals and appointed specified duties for the upcoming Fair session.

The appointments included: Dempsey J. Barnes, Sr., gate policeman; Jim Moore, Bill Milling, and Henry Tolbert, ground policemen; C.A. Bobo, manager of stock barns; Mr. and Mrs. William D. Nicholson, clerks of the New Hotel; Mrs. Bruce Vance and Mrs. Lillian Martin, clerks of the ladies' exhibit hall; J.H. Flake and Herbert Nicholson, badgemen; Fox Lewis and Mrs. Cora Vance, managers of agricultural exhibits and A. J. Mayo, clerk of the old hotel. Perhaps the most important authorization, the Board was to have four "sanitary out-door closets" constructed.

Director Clayton Rand had for weeks encouraged fellow committeemen to include a large fireworks display to the agenda. But after ruminating about the event, Rand concluded that since the 1923 Fair was a political year, there would be plenty of fireworks, albeit of a different nature.

As he put it in an editorial the week before opening day, "This is an election year and it is but natural that our Fair would run to politics, hot air, internal combustions."


Civil War Veterans

Cook, John Henry - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age eighteen; farmer; possibly wounded and captured at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; hospitalized with a gunshot wound in the Episcopal Church Hospital at Williamsburg, Virginia, September 15, 1863; furloughed, September 24, 1863; killed at Talley's Mill, May 10, 1864; Roll of Honor, Talley's Mill, May 10, 1864.

World War II Veterans

Cook, James David - Apprentice Seaman to Seaman First Class; enlisted October 23, 1943, at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the United States Navy; age twenty-five; farmer; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at the Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois, December 1943, at an Armed Guard School at Gulfport, Mississippi, March 1944, and at San Francisco, California, August 1944; served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations aboard the U.S.S. Cape Cumberland and U.S.S. Dunham Wight; participated in the campaign of Leyte, Philippine Islands; stationed again in the American Theatre at San Francisco, California, March 1945;awarded the America Campaign Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with three bronze service stars); discharged at New Orleans, December 16, 1945, demobilization.

Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum

Steven H. Stubbs, Curator

303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350

(601) 656-1284

10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;

Tuesday thru Friday