Ethel Saxon Lundy will not be with us on the fairground this year, but she sends this message, "Have a happy, healthy, and safe Fair. Honor God by being a good, law-abiding citizen."

Born in 1916, Ethel's parents, Charlie and Lula Saxon, began bringing their children to the Fair in the mid 20's.

At that time, there were only five children to bring, namely, Hester, Idella (Mrs. William Dollar) Joe, Bonnie (Mrs. Charles Phillips) and Ethel (Mrs. Bobby Lundy). Later came Ross, Kate( Mrs. James Ray), George, and Martha(Mrs. Clarence Smith).

Ethel recalls, "Daddy rented two or three rooms in the hotel (now the locale of the Fair office). We brought what food we could (no refrigeration), and we ate some at the concession stands".

Five children at the concession stands!

"Were you rich?" I asked.

"Heavens no! But our daddy loved people, his family, and a good time! It was said that when Charlie Saxon came to town, you could hear him laughing from one corner of the square to another."


Ethel began her "life in the public" by working three years at Newberry's in Meridian.

Her career in sales in Philadelphia began with a 2-year stint at Handelman's Department Store (next door to Busby Gift and Jewelry, west side of square), a few years at Walker Chains Five and Dime (locale of Sassafras and Magnolias), three years at Stubbs Department Store with Howard and Steve Stubbs, and then on to Mars Brothers Department Store for 25-30 years where she endeared herself to my generation.

She closed out her public life in Philadelphia at Dees Department Store with Jennie and Melvin Dees.

"I never asked for a job", Ethel told me with pride, "They came to me."

After Bobby died, Ethel decided it was time for a change.

"I went to MSCW and talked with the Dean about a job as a Dorm Mother. She told me she would talk with Dr. Hogarth and get back with me. She called the next day to say that Dr. Hogarth said I had the job and when could I start."

She was there for twelve years, working at Kincannon and Calloway Dorms.


Ethel's prides and joys come in her love for her boys.

First, there was Charles who passed away in February 2013. He lived in Gray, Ga.

Bobby Joe, who lives in Lakewood, La., has only missed three Fairs in his life.

Bill, active with Global Outreach in Tupelo, lives in Conway, Ark.


With failing eyesight, Ethel has been living at Atwood Personal Care Home, Philadelphia.

"The nicest place in the world" she told me. "Everyone here is so nice to me, and not just me. They are nice to everyone."

She and Hal Russell found prayer-partners and Bible study friends in Myrtice Richardson and Patricia Perry, both now deceased.

Ethel shares her evening prayer with us: "Four angels at the corners of my bed. One to watch, two to pray, and one to keep bad things away. Thank you, God, for loving us so much, and when our life here on earth is done, save us a home with you in Heaven. What a glorious day that will be. Amen."

Happy Fair!


The headlines in The Clarion Ledger recently read, "Mississippi Fertile Ground for Films and TV Shows."

Let's consider the ratio of TV stars in our own little City of Philadelphia.

Marty Stuart has a weekly show on RFD-TV with an estimated weekly audience of ten million viewers.

Peyton Manning and Eli Manning are the stars on Sunday night and Thursday night football, with an unheard million of television viewers all over the world.

Enter our latest local TV celebrity, Emily Dees Boulder, who has shocked and wowed Lifetime television viewers as the "Queen Bee" among her "friends" portraying the rich and spoiled "Pretty Wicked Moms" in Atlanta.

The show has brought very positive publicity to Philadelphia, as well as recognition to Emily's entire family.

After the show's segment filmed in the home of Emily's parents, Bud and Mandy Dees, Peggy Williams Dees, matriarch of the family and Em's proud Mamaw, remarked, "Can you believe that mine and Buddy's entire family was featured together on national TV?"

In an interview prior to the filming of "Pretty Wicked Moms," Pete asked his wife, "Emily, if you could have any wish, what would it be?"

"That my store SWANK in Atlanta would become a fashion dynasty in the world."


Emily's wish has far superseded anyone's expectations.

A lady came in from London one day "to buy me something from SWANK," and in one week alone, the store filled 300 e-mails orders for "the earrings Emily wears on the show."

I just have to add, that Bud Dees adds that real down-home "D&W" touch to the show, and there's no doubt that two-year-old Amzi has become the Shirley Temple darling of today!


My interview with two-year-old Ava James Byars, began, "I be two."

As you read this, Ava will indeed "be two" while at the Fair on Thursday, Aug. 1.

The Farm Animal Birthday Party at the home of Ava's Aunt Carly and Uncle Tyler Rounsaville on Sol Parker Drive, showcased Jeff Taylor's petting zoo.

There were pigs, chickens and rabbits for petting, and Ava and her friends, wearing cowboy hats and matching bandanas, took turns riding six birthday ponies, compliments of Ava's parents, Clay and Jessica Byars.

The birthday cake was a confectionary creation featuring a barn, surrounded by farm animals.

Each cupcake was topped with a different single animal, even the "cake pops" and "ice cookies" had a farm logo.

Special guests attending the four-to-six afternoon party included grandparents, Pam and Danny Thrash and Roberta and David Byars, great-grandmother Mama Neda, and aunts Katie Thrash and Meg Thrash.


Need a ride at the Fair? Contact Ava James at Cabin #79.

Perhaps she will give you a ride in her birthday Dora Jeep.


What could be more exciting than the jingle bells on a polka dot ice cream truck coming to offer you free ice cream!

"To be the driver of that ice cream truck" said Steve Wilkerson, whose "manhood" dream came true when his wife, Jenny Lynn, surprised him with a polka dot ice cream truck on his 60th birthday.

One man recalled, "I remember hearing you say in a long time ago, that you were going to have an ice cream truck someday and deliver free ice cream all over town."

"Giving it away" is the blessing, Steve said. "The children attending Bible School at Crossway Community Church were more in awe of the truck than they were of the ice cream.

"As we drove away, many of them were still holding their unwrapped, melting ice cream, watching us as if to say, 'What was that?'"


At Atwood Personal Care Home, the ice cream man and his lady treated old-time Philadelphia friends, and new friends, with an ice cream treat of their choice.

Mr. James Bishop talked Steve out of two treats, being that he is 97 years old!


Saturday evening, July 13, the Philadelphia Home Arts Club hosted its annual progressive dinner party at the fairground.

This year the club decided to give the dinner a "Mad Hatters" theme, encouraging each member to participate by making her own hat to wear to the party.

There were beautiful Derby bonnets with flowers and feathers, theme hats indicative of the Neshoba County Fair, Mardi Gras and Hawaii, even a wreath with a bird's nest!

The first destination of the evening was the Byars' Family cabin #79 where the appetizer course was hosted by Carly Byars Rounsaville and Natalie Nowell Scruggs.

The party moved to the Virginia Williams Perry cabin 202 where Jamie-Lee Williams Breland played hostess for the main dinner course.

Here the cabin's "Mad Hatter" decor included antique hats and an eclectic array of cans and vases filled with arrangements of hydrangeas and sunflowers.

And now on to the best part, the dessert course hosted by Jessica Denton mcCoy at the McCoy Family Cabin #254 on Sunset Strip which was decorated with colorful paper lanterns and flowers.

As a finale to the evening, the hat contest was held with Liz Owen taking the "prettiest hat" award, "funniest hat," Alana Pilgrim, and "most creative," Nikki Morrow.

Those attending the "Mad Hatter" dinner party included President Haley Booker and Jonathan, Vice President Jamie Lee Breland and Caleb, Leigh Anne and William Adkins, Jessica McCoy, Ginger and Jordan Flake, Haley Hodgins and Kip Turner, Nikki and Cody Morrow, Jonni and Jason Myers, Liz and Chris Owen, Kristen and Brent Page, Alana and Cody Pilgrim, April and Chris Posey, Carly and Tyler Rounsaville, Natalie and Matthew Scruggs, Kelly and Drew Sullivan, Carrie and Ben Wallace, Roni and Austin Posey, Ashley and Michael Smith, Liz Phillips, Kathryn and Grant Comans, and Jessica and Blake Pickering.


The Philadelphia Home Arts Club hosts the Christmas Tour of Homes in December, and a Night Golf Tournament in the fall, with proceeds going to various charities.

The Club awards "Yard of the Month" recognition, and holds the annual "Prepare for the Fair Bake Sale" in the lobby of the downtown main office of The Citizens Bank the Thursday before the Fair.

Come Fair time, everyone deserves a party!


Congratulations to Kayla Elizabeth Bates who has served as president of the Delta Omega Chapter of Kappa Delta at Mississippi State University since January 2013.

Kayla, the daughter of Jimmy and Susan Bates and granddaughter of Rayford and Janice Williamson and Sue Bates, recently attended the national Kappa Delta convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

Here Kayla was awarded the Corre Anding Stegal Leadership Award, the highest award given nationally by Kappa Delta to an individual member, in recognition of outstanding participation and leadership skills on campus and in the member's Chapter.


In further recognition at the national convention, the entire chapter at Mississippi State received merit chapter, placing the chapter as a top ten Kappa Deltas Chapter in the nation. Go MSU Kappa Deltas!!!

Local members of the chapter are Kayla, Mallory Madison and M. E. Clark.


More MSU news: Neshoba Central graduates, John Carr Bates, son of Jimmy and Susan Bates, Peyton Clark, son of Barry and Melissa Clark, Ali Gray, daughter of Lewis Gray and Tanya Heath, Anna Leigh Whitney, daughter of Mark and Tammy Whitney, and Tanner Rhodes, son of Derrick Peebles, along with Philadelphia High School graduate Macy Martin, daughter of Ike and Carla Martin, will enter Mississippi State as freshmen this fall. Macy and Anna Leigh will be roommates, as will John Carr and Tanner.

Ali Gray will be on the sidelines cheering for the Bulldogs this fall as a member of the all-girl cheerleader squad. Such good representation at MSU, promises an exciting year for all of us.

As it enfolds, remember that "Friends" would love your news.


You will find President Jeff Russell in the Holland Cabin, appropriately decorated with tulips, on the north side of the square.

Come Fair time, Jeff, the son of Hal and Peggy Holland Russell is just one of us lucky fairgoers, but as a 28-year senior executive officer of the GoodwinGroup, Jeff has been named president of the advertising agency which has been recognized numerous times among the nation's leading agencies.

The Neshoba County Fair has turned out some mighty smart children!


Dr. Jessica Harpole Bailey certainly falls into this category as having recently been named Dean of the School of Health Related Professions and Professor of Health Informatics and Information and Management at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Jessica is the daughter, not granddaughter, of my college roommate, Frankie Price Harpole, and my friend, Boots.

Give me a break!

It's been along time since Frankie and I were together at MSCW, long before it became "The W."


Weeks before many of the ladies of the Fair, become mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, we treat ourselves to some totally selfish Fair time.

"I bid four spades" can be heard around the bridge tables, while Hand and Foot players work toward "going out"with two red books and three black books.

The lucky roll of the dice is the name of the game in Bunko.

The games cease only long enough for the hostesses to serve delicious, deletable, beautifully appointed "lady food."

The Don Perry cabin on the south side of the square is definitely in the running, year after year, for "Fair Party Cabin of the Year."


It was at one such party hosted by Evelyn and her friends, Alice Rowe and Rebecca Barnett, that I picked up these favorite recipes of theirs.

Alice's recipe for Cheese and Rosemary Bread Pudding, a very savory dish, which Alice says is especially good with beef, ham and lamb; it kind of overpowers chicken.

1 onion chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 pound baguettes, cut into 1 inch slices and toasted lightly

1 pound Monteray Jack cheese, grated

1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, minced

3 cups heavy cream

10 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon tabasco

In a skillet, over moderate heat, cook onion in butter, stirring occasionally, until it is golden, remove skillet from heat. Arrange the toast in one layer on the bottom of a buttered 13x9 inch pyrex dish.

Sprinkle them with the onion, Rosemary, and then the cheese. In a bowl, whisk together, well, the cream, beaten eggs, salt, and Tabasco, and pour the custard slowly over the toast mixture.

Chill the strata, covered, for at least 8 hours or overnight. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until it is golden brown and bubbles.


Rebecca shares her favorite, a recipe for Spinach and Tomato Tart. 8 servings.

1 (14.l ounce) box refrigerated pie crust

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 large yellow onion

2 (6 ounce) bags baby spinach

4 large eggs

1 cup half and half

1-1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cups shredded fontina cheese, divided

5 Campari tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Garnish: chopped fresh tarragon. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll and stack pie crusts on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 14-inch circle. Fit crust into an 11-inch removable-bottom tart pan.

Trim excess dough 1/2 inch beyond top of pan. Prick bottom of pie crust with a fork. Bake for 8 minutes , set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat heat until butter is melted. Add garlic; cook one minute, stirring constantly.

Add onions, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Add spinach, in batches, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted and all liquid is evaporated.

Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and mustard. To assemble tart, sprinkle 1-1/2 cups cheese over bottom of prepared crust.

Layer spinach mixture on top of cheese. Pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle tomatoes with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until middle is set. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Garnish with tarragon, if desired.


Evelyn prefaces her favorite Chicken-Rice Casserole, with these remarks.

"Rachel interviewed me as Cook of the Week following a May Day luncheon. This was one of the recipes I shared. Our son, Paul, was then about 18 months old. He is now 37-plus."

Might I add for Evelyn: "It is still my favorite recipe, and Paul is still my favorite son!"

Serves 8 to 10, and may be prepared ahead of time. May be frozen.

2 (3 pounds) chicken. (I use chicken breasts).

1 cup water (I use more)

1 cup dry sherry

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 cup sliced celery

1 pound fresh mushrooms

1//4 cup butter

2 (6 ounce) packages long-grain and wild rice with seasonings (I use the Original Uncle Ben's)

1 cup sour cream

l (10-1/2 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup.

Cook chicken in large sauce pan with water, sherry, salt, curry powder, onion and celery. Remove from heat; strain broth.

When chicken is cool, shred and discard any bones and skin, (if used). Saute sliced mushrooms in butter until golden.

Use broth from chicken as part of liquid for cooking rice, following directions on package. Combine chicken, mushrooms, and rice in a 3-l/2 or 4-quart casserole.

Blend sour cream and mushroom soup and toss with chicken-rice mixture. Cover; refrigerate overnight, if desired. To heat, bake at 350-degrees for one hour.

Note: I usually saute the rice in some butter before adding seasoning packets and liquid. I also often add more sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Bake uncovered.