Thousands pack Square for Barbour's last Neshoba County Fair speech

NESHOBA COUNTY FAIR – Haley Barbour on Thursday morning gave his last Neshoba County Fair stump speech as governor, outlining his successes and the challenges his successor will face.

A huge crowd of at least a couple of thousand packed Founder’s Square by the time Barbour spoke, after numerous gubernatorial and other state candidates had warmed up the stage for him.

“For years, I’ve wanted to make a speech at the fair that was nothing but jokes,” Barbour said. “And I’m tempted to do that today. My first joke should be the Obama job creation policy. What a joke it is.”

Barbour said he’s leaving the state budget in better shape than eight years ago, “but it isn’t flush,” and his successor will face many challenges.

Numerous other candidates have spoken and are speaking today, including those for governor, treasurer and secretary of state.

For two candidates, speaking today required a little personal sacrifice. Secretary of state candidate Ricky Dombrowski of Gulfport noted it’s his wedding anniversary. Treasurer candidate Lucien Smith cut himself badly when a coffee pot shattered, and gave his speech against medical advice.

“The EMT told me I needed to go to a hospital,” Smith said. “I told him, better wrap me up tight, because I’m going to the Neshoba County Fair first.”

A midmorning shower cooled things off briefly at the fair, known for its hot weather, but it didn’t last and created mud and steam after it passed.

Read more on Thursday’s political stumping at the fair in the Sun Herald and sunherald.com.