Neshoba Fair longtime tradition for McKay family

The Neshoba County Fair is a family tradition for many, but the McKays of Philadelphia, they truly would not be here without the fair.

Don and Sharon McKay met on a Wednesday at the 1986 fair, and they have celebrated every Wednesday night at the fair ever since.

"A friend that knew both of us introduced us... and by the next fair, we were married," said Sharon.

Both attended the fair since birth, and they raised their family at the fair in a cabin on the northeastern side of the fairgrounds. I

n 2011, their original cabin was destroyed by a fire that displaced them for one fair, but they rebuilt in the same location in time for the next year's fair.

"I got a text message from one of my cousins, and he said, 'I've hear it's on y'all's row,' so we kinda knew as we drove up, and when we got here, our cabin was in flames, and you could not get close because it was so intense," Sharon described of that day.

Rebuilding meant adding more bedrooms- 24 beds in all- to accommodate the growing number of visitors to their cabin.

"Mollie Claire, my daughter, said maybe it was a good thing the old cabin burned because it was a two story. We would have never housed that many people in the old cabin," laughed Don. "We wouldn't have known where to put them."

The McKays always have a different group of folks at their cabin, but the term visitor doesn't stick for long.

"It is as if when they walk on this porch, they become family of ours," said Don. "Our family just expands, and everybody is just free."

The porch is the center of action- or afternoon naps- and it would tell a million stories if it could talk. Every meal is eaten there, countless card games are played, and friends turn into family.

By the time visitors leave, they know the McKay's rule for the next fair.

"We always say, once you've been and visited, then you know you're welcome the next year," said Sharon.

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