It was quite a fair, this 163rd edition of the Mid-South Fair that took over the Landers Center in Southaven for 11 days, ending on Sept. 29.
The turnstiles were kept busy during the event’s time in the center’s parking lot where it is becoming a late September staple, said Landers Center Executive Director Todd Mastry, who also oversees the operations of the fair.
“This is the 11th year here at the Landers Center,” Mastry said. “This is the third year for the Landers Center to have operational managerial control. The Mid-South Fair Board had some infrastructure costs that were pretty high. But, this is what we do. As we saw it, there were some things we thought we could do. We told (then-Board President) Franklin Childress we wanted to take it, and he got it. He understood.”
It may have been hot weather out there for the fair this year, but it was dry weather. Mastry remembers the six days of rain last year that kept attendance down, but the percentages were significantly higher this September.
“We saw a 46 percent increase from 2018 to 2019 and six less days of rain!!” Mastry said in a statement Monday afternoon.
Several events helped pad the attendance total for the Mid-South Fair. Along with the North American Midway carnival rides, fairgoers were able to see 901 Wrestling, raptor and alligator shows, and a petting zoo, along with other events. Paw Patrol and WWE NXT LIve professional wrestling were also staged inside the Landers Center, but as separate events while the fair was going on.
There was music, featuring The Band Perry, Journey tribute artist group Resurrection, and Mid-South star from The Voice, Reagan Strange.
The attraction of the big entertainment caused problems for some fairgoers looking for a place to park Saturday evening, however.
A number of them were directed to park in an area that a nearby apartment complex considered its property.
As the number of cars directed to that area grew, apartment complex officials directed a towing company to have the vehicles towed. In all, 11 cars were removed from the area.
That started a weekend of discussions between the fair management, City of Southaven, and the police department about responsibility for the parking mixup.
Monday afternoon, city officials and Mayor Darren Musselwhite came out with a statement saying an agreement had been reached.
“The City has been working on a resolution for the vehicle owners whose automobiles were towed Saturday night after our Police properly parked them,” said Musselwhite. “We commend the Landers Center for reaching out to these people who were inconvenienced and arranging for a reimbursement for all charges incurred. If the towing company did not have your contact information, please contact the Landers Center as they are trying to reach you.”
Mastry followed by stating he couldn’t get into specifics about the weekend, but did state the facility is trying to make it right.
“I can tell you that Landers Center is actively pursuing contact info for all 11 drivers and we will be reimbursing them for the tow fee,” Mastry said. “We want to make it right for these 11 drivers and their families/passengers who were put out by this situation and hope to have it completely resolved and everyone reimbursed by the end of the week at the latest.”
It turned out to be an unfortunate memory for those involved, but it was likely one of the few bad moments for the Mid-South Fair, a name Mastry said brings about a lot of good memories.
“Smelling the funnel cakes, seeing and hearing the rides and the things that come along with that,” said Mastry. “Our goal is to bring it back to that iconic status that is the Mid-South Fair. We’re absolutely excited about it and we’re on that path.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.