If your travels bring you to Mississippi in October, you must pencil in a visit to the Mississippi State Fair. Guests can typically enjoy free admission on weekdays from 11 AM until 1 PM. Enjoy a vibrant setting with plenty of tasty local fair foods and drinks as you stroll through the grounds.
The Mississippi State Fair has been going on for 160+ years and sees over a half million visitors annually. it spawns across 100-acres in downtown Jackson. There are so many fun things to do, but you can see for yourself in these photos that just might entice you to visit.
I’m sure that the incredible variety of food is what actually brings people to the Mississippi State Fair. And rightfully so. Food trucks and vendors range from pizza to chicken on a stick (a crowd-pleaser), Philly cheesesteaks to corndogs, and everything in between. Every year, the standout bestseller is the same: Nope, not deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried catfish, or chicken tenders. Grilled corn-on-the-cob is all the rage here in Jackson, and it is fabulous.
I was thrilled when 2021’s fair took place while still in a pandemic but had a yummy Thai food offering. My Chicken Pad Thai ,pictured below, was sweet with a little bit of heat but overall very filling and delicious. I paired my Pad Thai with a glorious Thai tea. If you’ve never had one before, the Asian tea is cut with sweetened condensed milk, and it is heavenly.
Other popular dining spots include anything funnel cake-related (a variety of toppings), sweet tea, homemade root beer, and Hawaiian shaved ice. My granddaughter was a big fan of the Snobiz tiger’s blood shaved ice.
My son-in-law is originally from the Jackson area, so a regular fair goer. He always insists on eating or taking home one of the honkin’ big cinnamon rolls. The smell is sinfully delicious. it wafts through the crowd competing with the aromas from fresh-popped popcorn, French fries, and grilled onions and peppers for sandwiches. Too bad we can’t bottle up this deliciousness.
Rides and Games
So many fun things to do at the Mississippi State Fair, and playing games along the boardwalk is one of them. Come with plenty of money because they aren’t cheap. On the flipside, you might get to take home a ginormous stuffed animal or some other fun trinket. My kids were always fans of the basketball shoot or trying to bust the halfway deflated balloons.
I prefer to watch people trying to climb up the ladder that flips around the whole time or throwing ping-pong balls in the little fishbowls. Don’t give in to the continuous calling for you to play the games unless you really want to. Remember, that’s their job to entice you.
There is quite an impressive list of rides at the Mississippi State Fair. You can buy tickets for a single ride or a ride-all-you-want option that may save you money. If memory serves me right, wristbands were a little under $30 per person.
Carnival rides are a blast, but they are even more exciting when the sun goes down. The neon lights are stunning. That’s when the carnival vibe really kicks in.
The SkyRide is my favorite and a great way to see the entire fairgrounds, plus take amazing pictures.
I didn’t attend state fairs growing up, so I was thrilled when I learned about the livestock events and contests. That makes perfect sense since the Department of Agriculture sponsors the fair. The petting zoo is the best. You can put your hands on animals, from sheep and goats to cows and llamas; they love to get petted. Quarter machines allow you to purchase handfuls of grain to feed the adorable animals.
A new event for the 2021 fair was a Mississippi Frontier Village, an outdoor exhibit with western-style entertainment and vendors. It appeared to be well received. Indoors, the Ag Expo (at the Mississippi Trade Mart) offered a look at plants, baby chicks, facts about beef, and many other educational activities. You could also show for Mississippi-made products, and we found several of our favorites and some new items to try. Our whole family enjoyed every inch of it.
Other attractions included pig races, arts & crafts, Zerbini Family Circus, an antique tractor show, and the 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) Livestock Shows.
Things to Know Before You Go
- General admission to the Mississippi State Fair is $5; teachers are admitted free.
- Admission is free for children six and under.
- Fair hours are typically 10 AM- 10 PM
- The Mississippi State Fair begins the first Wednesday of October and runs for 12 days.
- Nightly concerts at the main stage, featuring nationally known entertainment, are free.
- Don’t miss the Biscuit Booth—a locals’ favorite—with complimentary southern-style fluffy biscuits and syrup and the festive-decorated truck sponsored by Andy Gipson, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.
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