Prepping for Mississippi’s annual Giant House Party

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017

By Joel McNeece

One of the biggest highlights of every year for our family is fast approaching. The 129th Neshoba County Fair opens July 21 for its seven-day run.

We spent our Fourth of July weekend at the family’s home place for that week — Cabin #16 on Founders Square — getting everything prepped for the big event.

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I worked most of the day Friday at the cabin with regular traveling companion Kent Moore, formerly of Bruce, now employed by Weyerhaeuser in Philadelphia. He helped get our water heater replaced and then assisted me in other tasks such as changing out bathroom lavatories, shower heads and ceiling fans.

I enjoyed lunch with all the Moore family earlier in the day at Marty’s Blues Cafe just off the downtown square. It was a nice buffet lunch, but I was pondering what it’s like after dark when the place transforms into a Blues bar.

My wife Lisa and cabin mates Lauren and Brandon Pratt of Meridian rolled in later Friday night to assist in the full-scale cleaning of the two story cabin.

Newspaper friend Jim Prince, publisher of the Neshoba Democrat and Madison County Journal, arrived Friday as well for local July 4th celebrations. We don’t see each other nearly as much as we’d like and make the most of our reunions.

The fairgrounds were busy, not Fair kind of busy, but active with Fourth of July activities, including a big cook off that Kent’s son Tyler was competing in. Kent and I walked the fairgrounds to check in with him and Kent’s daughter Olivia who was staying at a friend’s cabin.

That night, Lisa and I dropped in on the Pete Perry cabin — Republican headquarters during the Fair. Perry, longtime GOP chairman in Hinds County, has literally wallpapered his cabin with Republican political signs from races as wide ranging as local dog catcher to U.S. President.

Saturday was full-scale work with virtually every piece of furniture moved out of the cabin and cleaned under and around. Nate and Kate Salter Gregory of Starkville joined us that morning to help.

We got a taste of the Fair when we took a break for lunch grilling burgers out back. It’s one of my favorite times during every Fair, when the guys all pull up lawn chairs around the grill to cook a big feast while we solve all the world’s problems, if only someone would listen to us.

It also proved a good time to do some grill planning for the Fair — barbecue chicken, ribs, steaks and a shrimp boil were all added to the schedule.

The cabin had never been cleaner when we pulled out Saturday evening. We’ll see how long that lasts when Mississippi’s Giant House Party kicks off in only three weeks.

Joel McNeece is the publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at