Mississippi’s Super Bowl of youth livestock events and the biggest rodeo east of the Mississippi River both have a home at the state’s Fairgrounds Complex.
The 105-acre facility in Jackson accommodates more than 700 event days per year, according to the Mississippi State Fair Commission. Many of these events include livestock and horses. Throughout the year, the state and various groups use the grounds for a long list of events, such as rodeos, barrel races and one of the nation’s largest quarter horse shows. Meanwhile, thousands of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats are part of two major livestock shows, including the Dixie National Livestock Show & Rodeo and the Mississippi State Fair, every fall and winter.
“Both of them mean a lot to the community,” says Billy Orr, director of the fair commission. “Within miles of here, there is not a room available for the two weeks the state fair is going on.”
These major events help Mississippi promote youth and livestock, says Greg Young, livestock director at the fairgrounds. Youth livestock events set records in 2012 at the Dixie National. And livestock quality improves each year. Exhibitors strive for better animals, often attained through high quality breeding stock and greater access to quality genetics, Young says.
Nearly 1,500 4-H and FFA members exhibited livestock in the 2012 Dixie National Livestock Show & Rodeo, making it the largest junior market livestock show in Mississippi. Meanwhile, about 51,000 people attend the eight performances of the rodeo, the largest east of the Mississippi River, Orr says. Including livestock events, nearly 80,000 people attend the Dixie National.
While the Dixie National includes more animals, the state fair shines in attendance. The Mississippi State Fair continues to be one of the South’s major fairs with 656,298 people attending in October 2012, Orr says. The 12-day event’s main attractions include its mile-long midway, free major entertainment, 120,000 square feet of exhibits and junior livestock shows.
The Dixie National Livestock Show & Rodeo, held the first three weeks of February, includes both open livestock competitions for exhibitors of any age and junior livestock competitions for 4-H and FFA members. The junior event in 2012 showcased 2,302 head of livestock, the largest in at least a decade. It registered 15 percent more animals than in 2007, according to statistics from the Mississippi State University Extension.
The show also includes the Sale of Junior Champions, the pinnacle event of junior livestock exhibition in Mississippi. The champion animals sold in 2012 grossed a new sale record of $299,352.50. Since its first auction in 1970, sales have totaled $4.8 million and thousands in scholarships have been awarded to the state’s outstanding youth. For more information on these and others at the Mississippi Fairgrounds, visit www.mdac.ms.gov or call (601) 961-4000.