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Old-school politicking an annual tradition at Mississippi fair

 

Before the radio, television and Internet, campaigns often looked like this. 

Big crowds packed under a tin roof, sitting on creaky wooden benches in hot, humid weather to hear the latest political banter for hours at a time. 

And each summer -- for one week out of the year -- that scene comes alive again in central Mississippi, as officials from across the state make their way to the Neshoba County Fair for some old-school politicking. 

"We are a traditional, old-fashioned, county fair, but in the 21st century," said the fair's program director, Scott Bounds. 

This 123-year-old tradition showcases what campaigns used to look like. 

"When Jefferson and Madison were campaigning, this is the way they did it," said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.  "And so we're doing it the same way American government officials and politicians have been doing it for hundreds of years now." 

This two-day political throwback has grown considerably since 1889. It started as a meeting for local farmers, but now hosts more than 100,000 people each year, and is one of the biggest political events in the state. 

"It is the political mecca for political junkies in the state of Mississippi," Bounds said. "Any candidate who is serious about being elected ... if they stand any chance of being elected, they're going to have to speak at the Neshoba County Fair." 

Campaign signs are everywhere at this central Mississippi fair -- on cabins, on utility poles, and on the ubiquitous paper fans waving in almost every hand at the fair. 

Those fans, though, are for more than just supporting the campaign of choice. 

"As you can see from me sweating right now, it's hot at the Neshoba County Fair," Bounds said with a laugh. "It's Mississippi in August. I mean, come on."

Garrett Tenney is a correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in April 2013 and is based in the Chicago bureau.