Fairgrounds attracts crowds to Poplarville | Events
The Pearl River County Fairgrounds hums with activity almost every weekend and several times each week.
Located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 11 and Mississippi Highway 26, the fairgrounds includes an outdoor arena with stock pens and 48 horse stalls, the former National Guard armory and a newly-built community storm shelter.
The arena - 225 feet long and 140 feet wide - seats about 1,500 on permanent bleachers, which are frequently filled for horse shows.
"It’s really turned out to be a big deal," said fairgrounds director Frank Graves. "They had a roping not long ago and had 500 teams there."
Besides the team roping events, the fairground hosts rodeos, circuses and Cowboy Church on Thursday night.
"The horse part of the 4-H Club uses it every Tuesday night," Graves said. "They’ll have 30 to 40 kids there."
Area riders also use the arena for training, especially when rain has made their outdoor pens too wet.
"I’m down here three to four days a week," said Jessie Stockstill of Poplarville.
A community-wide revival is held at the arena in October with 700 to 800 chairs placed on the arena floor.
The arena rents for $300 a day plus $100 for use of the concession stand, if desired. Horse shows and rodeos bring crowds of out-of-town visitors to Poplarville.
"It’s an economic boon to the city," said Brenda Wells, president of the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce. "People buy gas, food; they shop. People aren’t always aware of what’s going on there."
Events at the fairgrounds aren’t just for warm weather. The South Mississippi Rabbit Breeder’s Association held a show there in January.
"They had 1,000 rabbits there," Graves said. "They have people from everywhere come to that show."
Star Circus set up at the fairgrounds for its run in February and the state high school rodeo was held in Poplarville in March.
"That’s when there is some money spent in Poplarville," Graves said.
The former armory also attracts a variety of events.
"It’s been used for meetings, family reunions, wedding receptions," he said. "It stays pretty busy."
The armory rents for $250 a day for events with paid admission; $150 a day for no-admission events. The storm shelter also will be available in the near future.
"They’re going to turn it over to the fairgrounds for use for meetings," Graves said.
The buildings meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and handicapped parking spaces are being constructed.
Recent events included a Farm Safety Day for 500 area fifth-grade students, the Pearl River Wranglers Youth Rodeo which featured sheep riding, barrel racing, pole bending and roping and an annual youth fishing rodeo.
"They go fishing wherever they want to and they bring ‘em there to weigh in," Graves said. "Then they cook ‘em and everybody eats."
With the exception of one weekend in August, the fairgrounds arena is booked through the summer, Graves said. Early highlights include:
May 18 - Rodeo
May 25 - Pearl River Wranglers.
May 31 - Thunder in the Pearl rodeo.
June 15 - Great Southern Rodeo Association rodeo.
June 22 - Deep South Team Roping.
June 28 - Justin Harless team roping.
The Pearl River County Fair will open with horse shows on Saturday, Aug. 31, and conclude the following weekend with the rodeo.
For information about the fairgrounds or to book one of the facilities, contact Graves at 601 916-0983.
Information source: Janet Braswell.