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Visitors look over the items available for sale at one of the vendors during a recent Hernando A’Fair. The 46th annual festival will be May 18 on the Courthouse square.

(Editor's note: After this item was published, Olive Branch Old Towne officials announced it was canceling its Mayfest celebration and the 5K run this year due to the threat of rain.)

Two festivals in DeSoto County highlight the weekend calendar for the next couple of weeks, starting Saturday with the annual Olive Branch Mayfest.

It will be the 19th annual gathering in the Olive Branch Old Towne district and opens with the fifth annual 5K run/walk event that begins about 8 a.m. that morning.

The Olive Branch Old Towne Association hosts Mayfest, which will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, primarily centered on Pigeon Roost in the historic center of Olive Branch. There will be free kids’ events, vendors and food during the daylong event.

The scene shifts to Hernando on Saturday, May 18 for the 46th annual A’Fair in Hernando, with the historic Courthouse square buzzing with arts, crafts and food vendors, and much more, said Rachel Cook of the Optimist Club of Hernando, which has hosted the event since 1993.

Cook said the name A’Fair had nothing to do with an “affair,” but rather because those behind it wanted to be sure the event got a prime spot on a list of similar events.

“The reason it was named A’Fair was because there was a listing some organization put out of all of the fairs and festivals in Mississippi, done in alphabetical order,” Cook explained. “Organizers wanted A’Fair to be listed first, so that’s why it is called A’Fair.”

Not only is A’Fair an activity where friends can meet friends on a weekend, but Cook said it is a prime fundraiser for a group that works to help children.

“A’Fair is our only fundraiser, so all of the funds that we raise through this event go to support children in various areas in our community,” Cook said.

The arts and crafts become a prime attraction for the event, with Cook observing that more people are looking for items handmade and not found in “big box” stores.

“We’ve really seen a trend toward going back to those products, Cook noted. “I think people are finding a better appreciation of that now over imported products. There are a lot of people doing a lot of good, interesting things.”

As with the Olive Branch Mayfest, Cook said a 5K run will start the day. The Laurie Wylie Memorial run will benefit an education fund bearing the same name.

“The Laurie Wylie Memorial 5K will start from the Trustmark Bank parking lot with registration at 7 a.m., the race kicks off at 7:30 a.m. and the awards will be after that,” she said.

There will also be entertainment on the front steps of the courthouse during the day of what’s been a growing event over the close to 50 years A’Fair has been a part of DeSoto County.

“The Chamber of Commerce originally started A’Fair,” Cook said. “They used to have under 100 booths but this year we are full with 265 booths on the Square. We get people from all over Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri. Even Texas. It’s a good mix.”

More information may be found on the club’s website, hernandooptimist.org.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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