During the early years of the Neshoba County Fair, kerosene lamps and candles furnished night illumination for the wagons, shanties and cabins, with torch lights made of "burning pine knots on red clay covered shelves on top of ten-foot poles" for lighting the general grounds.

The Fair Association replaced those burning lights with Dynamos installed during the spring of 1923. Toward the end of the 1920s, President Brown Williams, Sr. appointed a Light Committee to explore ways to transport electricity to the Fairgrounds. Committee Chairman Richard H. Molpus, Sr. informed the Board members at their February 27, 1930, meeting of the status of his committee's project. "The Mississippi Power Company would soon make a survey and see about running lines out to the fair ground," Molpus reported, "and if they cannot run their lines out this year, we want to be assured of a large gas engine the Mississippi Company had at Philadelphia."

At the April 15, 1930, Board meeting, the governing body approved plans for a concrete base for the engine generator, as electricity moved one-step closer to the Neshoba County Fair, now a forty-year-old agricultural institution. Twenty-five days later, the Light Committee awarded Mr. Robert Lee Johnson a $75.00 contract to move "said engine and place same on base."

Included also in the cost of the of the engine plant were the requirements to "build pully [sic] for engine and put the engine in running order."

Days before the opening of the 1930 Fair, the Light Committee reported to the Board that the engine for lights was in readiness, and that Mr. Johnson had "made pully for same at $15.00." Even with the availability of new lights, the Board had another concern that they solved by asking Secretary and Fair Manager John Huston and the Neshoba County sheriff to "employ commission men to go through crowds and where any one was found without badge to take them to the gate and have them buy tickets and for their compensation the gate clerk was instructed to pay each commission man who brought in such person 50 cents on each culprit."

The Association Board then authorized construction of a livestock barn on the grounds, and had for the first time in its history a carnival company - six riding shows and ten other shows. President Williams stated that, "It is a high-class, clean-cut aggregation and offers the best of shows and entertainment."

Among the rides were a Ferris Wheel, Whip, Merry-Go-Round, Thriller, Tilt-A-Whirl and others. The Daley Brothers Shows contracted to pay the Fair Association a fee of $500.00, plus fifteen percent of gross receipts. The Board also voted to return the racing program on the "strength of many requests," and booked the Six Sailors, a group of six aerialists performing "whirlwind acrobatics, pyramid building, and teeterboard jaunts in sensational style," to entertain between races.

An article appeared in the July 30, 1930, issue of The Neshoba Democrat, entitled, "Beauty Contest Will Be Staged at County Fair." "Come on fellows!," wrote a writer for the newspaper, "Where is that best girl of yours? Don't you think she is the prettiest girl in Mississippi?"

The Fair Association decided to present the contest at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 1930, under the Pavilion. In charge of the pageant was Mrs. Margaret Cresswell, Neshoba County Home Demonstration Agent. Any married or unmarried Neshoba lass was eligible to enter, providing they tendered the $1.00 entrance fee. Contest rules required the contestants to "parade singly across the stage," in front of a panel of three judges, who will "name the winners, with winners receiving many valuable prizes." The Democrat writer noted that, "Considerable interest is being taken in the contest, and the Beau Brummels of the county are making plans to enter their 'best girls' in this big beauty parade." This assessment appears to be inaccurate, since Fair officials cancelled this beauty contest days later, which they resurrected in 1933, but only for two pageants, 1933 and 1934.

Later, after a 14-year absence, the Association again decided to recognize the fairest of the fair young ladies of Neshoba County. Calling upon the direction of the Business and Profession Women's Club of Philadelphia, and the sponsorship of Kasdan's Store, the beauty pageant, named the "Miss Neshoba County Contest," took center stage in front of the Grandstand at 7:30 p.m., Monday, August 9, 1948. The contest continues today, after sixty-six years of presenting the beauties of Neshoba County.



VETERANS MEMORIES

Civil War Veterans

Wilson, Hugh White - Private; Third Sergeant; enlisted July 8, 1861, at Pleasant Springs, Mississippi, in the Kemper Guards which became Company D, 59th Virginia Infantry Regiment; age eighteen; farmer.

Captured on Roanoke Island, February 8, 1862; paroled at Elizabeth City, New Jersey, late February 1862; transferred to Company D of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment in the fall of 1862; received $22.00 in pay as a private, November 1, 1862; present at Gettysburg -- clothing had thirteen bullets holes, but not injured, July 3, 1863; served as third sergeant from February 1864 to the close of war; severely wounded in the leg at the Wilderness, May 6, 1864; hospitalized at General Hospital #9 at Richmond, Virginia; transferred to Howard's Grove Hospital at Richmond.

Disabled for two months; rejoined Company D, October 1964; served with the brigade sharpshooters, late 1864 and early 1865; Muster Roll, November-December 1864: "Present;" avoided capture by swimming Hatcher's Run, April 2, 1865; captured at Little Sayler Creek, April 6, 1865; escaped; paroled at Meridian, Mississippi, June 13, 1865; described as five feet ten inches tall, fair complexion, dark hair and grey eyes..



World War II Veterans

Wilson, Calvin C. - Private to Private First Class; enlisted on October 7, 1943, at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age eighteen; farmer; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations.

Served also in the European Theatre of Operations as a warehouseman with the 3104th Quartermaster Service Company, May 1944 to December1945.

Participated in the Invasion of Normandy, and the campaigns in the Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe; awarded the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal; discharged at Camp Shelby, January 11, 1946, demobilization; described as six feet tall, weighing 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

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.;

Monday thru Friday