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Jackson County Fair opens with animals, rides, food and games

PASCAGOULA -- Leanna Chapman's favorite chicken, Henny Penny, was back at her family's farm babysitting some chicks, but the five-year-old seemed happy to help her grandfather get other chickens settled into cages at the Jackson County Fair on Sunday.

The 94th annual fair opened at 4 p.m. Sunday in Pascagoula and will run through Oct. 25.

Attendance was sparse during the first hour, though children yelled on the rides and wandered around the livestock barn to look at the cows, chickens, rabbits and goats that had already been brought in. Some empty stalls awaited even more animals.

Leanna's grandfather, Jamie Chapman, has been at the fair every year since 1986. On Sunday, Chapman, Leanna, and several other family members helped unload nine pairs of Bantam chickens, a small breed. Three grandchildren each claimed three pairs.

If any of the chickens won a cash prize, that grandchild could use the money on rides or games at the fair.

The Vancleave farm isn't a business of Chapman, who is a pastor. But he has chickens and a few other animals, including a bloodhound who lives in a pen with a pig who acts like a dog.

Leanna likes the bloodhound

as much as Henny Penny, she said, even though the dog drools on her.

She lives next door to her grandfather and helps with the animals.

"If I feed the chickens without her, she gets upset," he said, laughing, as Leanna picked up a cage at least as big as her to carry back to the truck.

Fair attendees will be able to see the chickens, and other animals, in the livestock barn throughout the week.

Next to the barn, inside the Jackson County Civic Center building, businesses and organizations were setting up booths.

For Chocolates and More, a Pascagoula sweets shop, the week promises to be its second-busiest time of the year -- eclipsed by Valentine's Day but ahead of the upcoming holidays.

"This gets us pumped for the holidays," said Myra Howard as she set out various treats. "We're all excited."

At last year's fair, the business built such a big clientele that it reserved two booths this year. Chocolates and More will be at the fair all week with its best-sellers, including pralines, cheese straws, pecan brittle and gourmet apples.