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Something for Everyone: Spring Fair panel aiming for wide appeal

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / The committee for Mississippi Springfest and Fair gathered Monday to make further plans for the event coming May 7-11. Among those at the meeting were Jennifer Calhoun (from left), First United Methodist Church; Susan May, Susan's Shoppe; Rebecca Bates, Lincoln County Extension Service; Brandon Alberson, LCES; Kevin Sanders, Grace Community Church; Otis Raybon, The Daily Leader; and Brookhaven Police Chief Bobby Bell.

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / The committee for Mississippi Springfest and Fair gathered Monday to make further plans for the event coming May 7-11. Among those at the meeting were Jennifer Calhoun (from left), First United Methodist Church; Susan May, Susan’s Shoppe; Rebecca Bates, Lincoln County Extension Service; Brandon Alberson, LCES; Kevin Sanders, Grace Community Church; Otis Raybon, The Daily Leader; and Brookhaven Police Chief Bobby Bell.

The committee planning the Mississippi Spring Festival and Fair for 2014 is aiming at reaching out to everyone in the community – across racial and denominational lines.

The Spring Festival and Fair committee met Monday in the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce boardroom. The Fair is set for Sunday, May 7, through 11.

Director for Lincoln Civic Center Quinn Jordan said they are hoping to do a better job at reaching out to the African American community and draw in a big crowd for opening day of the fair on Wednesday by having a big Youth Night.

“We are going to get with Otis [Raybon] who heads our advertising committee and see what we need to do to get the message out there that we want everyone in our community to know what we have to offer and get them to come out,” Jordan said. “We want people to come out and have the kind of day with their families where they say, ‘That’s the best time we’ve had in a long time.'”

The committee discussed opening night of the festival, which has been Youth Night. The committee for Youth Night is headed up by First Baptist Church Youth Minister Jason Holmes. Jordan explained to the committee why Holmes was his choice.

“He is looking for a professional athlete to be the special speaker,” Jordan said. “We are reaching out to people who will be a regional draw.” Holmes will also be responsible for the musical performers for Youth Night. “One of the things Jason speaks to, I think, is that he can reach across denominations and speak to all youth.”

Wednesday night’s show will be sponsored by First Baptist Church of Brookhaven. Holmes said it is the church’s aim to create a show that is uplifting and that reaches out to all youth no matter their religious affiliation.

Susan May with Susan’s Shoppe, 512 W. Monticello St., Brookhaven, said she has gotten a confirmation from Miss Mississippi State University and is working on getting Miss Mississippi High School America whose platform is anti-bullying.

May will produce the pageant set for Saturday, May 10, at the Spring Festival and Fair, which will be a preliminary to the Miss High School, Junior High School and Collegiate America Pageant competition. She is already accepting applications.

“We’ve already gotten entries from around the state,” May said, “and we are going to welcome contestants from outside of the community to compete. My pageant reaches out all over the state and that’s what we want. For the competition we just do modeling. There’s no interviewing at the local level.”

May said she wanted to have performers for her pageant and invites performers to contact her, and may have winners from the Mid-South Talent Show come on stage.

Thursday night the committee is discussing scheduling the preliminary to another national competition, the Mid-South Fair Youth Talent Contest. There is a junior segment, 8 to 12-year-olds, and the sanctioned group whose winners move on to state competition, the 13 to 21-year-old group.

The group discussed the possibility of having the junior talent show on Sunday night. Jordan said the sanctioned competition would not be changed.

“Thursday’s Mid-South preliminary night is set in stone,” but we’ll continue to work on possibly having the younger group on Sunday afternoon.” here were concerns with the length of the competition and school obligations for the younger set, but as the committee pointed out, Sunday, May 11, is Mother’s Day. The committee decided to reach out to the community and to schools for suggestions.

Parking has been an issue at the fair, but Jordan said this year they are going to create auxiliary parking at the sports complex and provide shuttles to and from on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We want to try and prevent parking on the road,” he said. “It is hazardous with the big trucks that come through there.”

Finally, the group discussed ways to increase traffic during non-peak hours and give families a price break on rides. Jordan said the fair’s biggest sponsor, Toyota of Brookhaven, wants to help everyone who wants to come to the fair enjoy what it has to offer.

“We are thinking about having an armband night for $15 on Wednesday,” Jordan said. “Since this is our Youth Night this might be a good night to give people a price break.”

Director of marketing for the Chamber Kay Burton said she was thinking of ways to drive traffic earlier in the day.

“It gets expensive when you’re taking more than one child to the fair,” Burton said. “I think it would be a good idea to offer $10 armbands for the kiddie-rides, say for the morning and early afternoon.”

For more information about the Springfest and Fair, call Jordan at the Lincoln Civic Center, 601-823-3896, or email him at qjordan@co.lincoln.ms.us.