Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson will officially open the gates to the 161st Mississippi State Fair with a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 5:00 p.m. today at Gate 1 located at the intersection of Jefferson and Amite Streets.
Mississippi Fairgrounds Acting Director Michael Lasseter and Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality McKay Lee Bray will join Commissioner Gipson in kicking off the State Fair. The Mississippi State Fire Academy Elite Honor Guard will present the colors and Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s (MDAC) Jared Vardaman will perform a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Commissioner Gipson will also be joined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Mary Walker and EPA Chief of Staff Mandy Gunasekara. Prior to the ribbon cutting, Regional Administrator Walker and Commissioner Gipson will be signing an MOU to formalize the partnership between MDAC and the EPA to expand the collaborative activities related to communication, education, outreach, and training of agricultural practices that benefit the environment.
Following the ribbon cutting, Commissioner Gipson will make his way down the Midway to the Biscuit Booth where he will personally greet fairgoers.
“I am excited to welcome everyone to the 161st Mississippi State Fair, social distance style,” said Commissioner Gipson. “We realized this year’s fair would look a little different several months ago, and since then, we have been carefully planning the set-up and working out any kinks in the daily operations to ensure the safety of our visitors at the biggest annual event of our state. The State Fair is a tradition for many families, and we have gone to great lengths to make sure the public can enjoy the usual fun-filled activities, while keeping safe.”
It is advised that any guests who feel unwell or may have underlying medical conditions stay home. The entire complex has limited the number of guests, and each indoor building has posted building limits. All vendors and employees will be wearing masks and attendees are encouraged to wear masks when unable to be socially distant. In addition, fair rides will be sanitized between each ride, and hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the grounds.
“Wearing a mask is a matter of personal preference. We strongly encourage fairgoers to bring a mask in case they are not able to socially distance. We will have masks at the gate for fairgoers that may need one,” said Commissioner Gipson.
The safe fair plan was created using CDC guidelines, guidance from State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and best practices from other similar events. The plan has been reviewed by Governor Tate Reeves.