JACKSON – The leaders of the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University will share the podium with the state’s top political leadership this week at the historic Neshoba County Fair.
Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones is scheduled to speak today while Mississippi State President Mark Keenum is slated to speak on Thursday.
This will mark the first time in recent memory that university heads have spoken during the two days of the two-week event normally reserved for political speaking.
In the past in an off-election year, fair organizers invited all former living governors to speak in an effort to add interest to what is considered the state’s premier political gathering.
Both the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia and the Jacinto political speakings on July 4 at the historic Jacinto Courthouse in Alcorn County draw the state’s top political leaders even though the modern-day campaigns focus more on television and the electronic media.
The state’s political leadership – and those wanting to be part of that leadership – still speak at the events because they receive extensive statewide media coverage.
And even in off-election years, speakers sometimes make news or announce new initiatives at the Neshoba County Fair.
“The Neshoba County Fair is a top political stop that elected officials look forward to every year,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday. “It’s a chance to get away from the Capitol, visit with friends and sample some good Mississippi cooking.”
Today, Auditor Stacey Pickering, Reeves and Attorney General Jim Hood, the state’s lone statewide Democratic elected official, are scheduled to speak.
On Thursday, Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, Treasurer Lynn Fitch, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Gov. Phil Bryant are slated to speak.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, because of a prior family commitment, will be the only statewide elected official not speaking at this year’s fair.
Hosemann said as important as the fair is, his grandchildren come first.