The biggest event in the state is back in Jackson promising days of food, fun and top-notch entertainment.
In its 152nd incarnation, the Mississippi State Fair, which opened Wednesday, runs through Oct. 16.
"Every year, you try to make what you had before a little bit bigger, a little bit better," said Billy Orr, executive director of the Mississippi State Fair Commission.
Fair regulars can expect free biscuits, classic cars on display and free admission at lunchtime.
The fair enjoyed a record year in 2010 drawing more than 637,000 people. A key to that success was great weather, and this year sunny days are in the forecast for most of fair, with scattered showers expected Monday and Wednesday.
Brightening days and nights are the many free performances (with fair admission) by such top names as Madison County natives The Band Perry, Boys II Men, Kansas, Keith Sweat and The Oak Ridge Boys.
The only concert charging admission is the one with Mississippi natives 3 Doors Down. Tickets are $24 to $46 for the Oct. 15 show at the Coliseum.
Parking is $5 and fair admission is also $5, but children 12 and younger can get in for free on Tuesday, by downloading a coloring page from the website www.msfair.net, coloring the picture and bringing it to the gates.
Once inside, rides will be a major draw, and this year there will be more than 60 spread throughout the fairgrounds, said Terry Foreman, vice president of finances for North American Midway Entertainment, which handles the carnival rides and attractions.
On Fridays, visitors can pay $20 per person for unlimited rides from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Unlimited rides until closing, at $25 per person, will be offered from noon to 10 p.m. Monday, 2-10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 4-10 p.m. on the final day, Oct. 16.
Orr said the rides are always the most popular attractions, but the fair will also feature pig racing, a petting zoo and a children's barnyard every day. Plus there is an expanded circus this year, he said.
In addition are the many agriculture-related contests from animals to food preservation.
Then there are some unique events, such as the Mr. Legs and beard growing contests, set for 3 and 5 p.m. respectively on Oct. 15 at the Mississippi Trade Mart.
Mississippi Fair's Got Talent, with categories in several age brackets, will span several days. The finals will be held this Sunday and next starting at 2 p.m. at the Trade Mart.
Agriculture Department worker Connie Braswell is in charge of the Fiddlers and Liars Contest. Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Budweiser Pavilion, it's exactly what it sounds like, with people fiddling and lying.
"We usually have a fiddle-off. We give prize money and certificates to the winner," she said.
People can also compete to tell the biggest or most convincing lie within four minutes.
"We usually have some pretty good liars. We had a lady who got up and told a story about having a baby in the middle of Jitney Jungle," she said. "I'm still not really sure if it was true or not."
Regardless of why they come, the fair draws people from around the state.
"This fair is especially good because this is a tradition," Foreman of North American Midway said. "People like to eat fair food, ride rides, and they like to enjoy themselves."
Thursday, Oct. 6
Grammy award-winning crooners Boyz II Men, 7:30 p.m., Budweiser Pavilion on the Midway.
Friday, Oct. 7
Country superstars The Oak Ridge Boys, 7:30 p.m., Budweiser Pavilion on the Midway.
Saturday, Oct. 8
Antique tractor pull, noon, Kirk Fordice Equine Center.
Sunday, Oct. 9
Talent contest finals, 2 p.m. today and Oct. 16, Mother and Daughter Look-a-Like Contest, 3 p.m., Mississippi Trade Mart.
Tuesday, Oct. 11
The Band Perry, 7:30 p.m., Budweiser Pavilion on the Midway.
Wednesday, Oct. 12
Senior American Day featuring Guy Hovis, The Four Freshmen, Jerry Puckett and Raphael Semmes, noon, Mississippi Coliseum.
Saturday, Oct. 15
Mr. Legs Contest, 3 p.m., Beard Growing Contest, 5 p.m., Mississippi Trade Mart.
For additional information, visit the fair's website.