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New multi-purpose arena hosting first event this weekend

Lafayette County’s multi-purpose arena is complete and ready to hold events, beginning this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Oxford Gun Show will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

Aside from a couple of horse-riding activities last week, this weekend’s event marks the first official event to be held inside the county’s newest attraction.

“We’re starting to book events and this will be our first, big test run,” Wayne Andrews, executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, said. “We’ve started marketing the venue and we’ve had people up to tour it. …This will be really interesting of an event.”

The gun show is being produced by New South Gun Shows, which is based out of Jackson. The two-day event will feature around 30 vendors and exhibits for guns, ammunition, knives and military and outdoor recreation items. It is a family-friendly event, with activities taking place each day. There will be door prizes and parking will be free.

The event has drawn interest from vendors ranging from Memphis to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

This weekend’s event is the first to be officially scheduled and advertised for the arena, but Andrews, who was approved by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors in June to manage the arena through YAC, is showing off to potential event organizers how multi-faceted the venue can be.

“The reception has been good obviously because of the unique nature of the facility,” Andrews said. “It is a horse arena, but it has cooling fans and all of these things, and the dirt does this special thing where you can roll it and becomes kind of hard like concrete. So it’s still a dirt floor, but it’s a hard surface and a lot of people are really interested in the possibilities of it.”

Holding this weekend’s event is also going to be a barometer in gauging how quickly they can set up the arena for something like a gun show, then seeing how long the process of returning it back to a horse-riding venue will take.

With construction of an amphitheater still ongoing, Andrews noted that they can still book concerts there, as the arena has all the necessary utilities to host a music event inside. It will also serve as a backup venue in the event weather might play a factor on days something is scheduled for the amphitheater once it is completed.

Later this month, the arena is hosting the Lafayette County Arena Community Day on August 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. It is going to serve as an open house of sorts to allow groups such as 4-H and the Lafayette County Cattleman’s Association showcase to the public how they plan to utilize the new venue. The community day will be a free event.