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The Neshoba County Fair midway

By Joel McNeece

I leaned back against the wall, then the spinning started. I couldn’t move. It accelerated to such a degree the force seemed to be peeling my face away from my skull and my chest was separating. I could feel all four Gs of centrifugal force deep in my bones as I slowly slid up the wall, my feet dangling.

“This can’t end soon enough,” I said to myself.

Then I turn to my left and 8-year-old granddaughter Addi Claire is lying sideways on the wall laughing hysterically. I slowly roll my head around to the right and 5-year-old Ellie Kathryn’s smile clearly indicates she’s having a different experience as well.

The Gravitron, or Starship as some call it, was just one of the stomach churning rides that I endured on the opening weekend of the Neshoba County Fair that is usually more memorable for lots of good eats and visiting with friends. Not this year. Opening weekend was all about the midway.

After the Gravitron came the “Ring of Fire” — a vertical roller coaster that just rocks back and forth like a pendulum until you have enough momentum to loop all the way around the ring. Addi Claire picked the first two seats so we had a wide open view of the rails as we raced around in circles. At one point, it paused up top with the two of us dangling upside down. I was trying hard not to remember what we ate for lunch while Addi Claire continued laughing.

Then came the “Tornado,” “Hurricane,”  swinging “Pirate Ship” and last but not least, the “Himalayan.”

I remember the Himalayan from my youth, riding it at the State Fair in Jackson. It’s a small roller coaster that just makes a circle at break-neck speeds with a couple dips. You’re pinned to the side of the car throughout. Addi Claire, who barely weighs 50 pounds soaking wet, was plastered up against me throughout, still laughing as I bit my lip.

This all went down Thursday night. It was Saturday morning before I had my bearings back. I was never more thankful to see niece and nephew Samantha and Eli Adams, both of Tuscaloosa, show up Friday afternoon to take over as midway riders.

The remainder of the opening weekend was spent with family and friends, on the front porch, around the grill, always within the air flow of a hard working fan.

I caught up on all the news during several visits with Snooky Williams of Water Valley, who lives two doors down during Fair Week. There are always great visits with my good friend Jim Prince, owner of the Neshoba Democrat, in his cabin and ours. Those get more interesting this week when political speaking takes over Founder’s Square.

I have an appointment with regular traveling companion Kent Moore, of Philadelphia, to take in several of the harness and thoroughbred races from his perch just behind the starting gates. Mix in a chair race or two for this week’s concert series and lots more good eating and week two should be an exciting time on the sawdust covered fairgrounds of Philadelphia, as long as I can keep my distance from the midway.

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