Year after year, fair-goers flock to the comfort of homemade biscuits dripping with sweet syrup from the Biscuit Booth at the Mississippi State Fair.
Since its inception in 1983 under former Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Jim Buck Ross, the Biscuit Booth has brought years of joy to the Midway.
“The Biscuit Booth is incredibly popular with the public, and we give out thousands of biscuits each year,” says Bill Orr of the Mississippi Fair Commission. “The booth handed out 104,450 biscuits in 2014.”
The secret to the biscuits lies in their production. Every year, sponsors donate staggering amounts of ingredients for the dough. In 2014, donations included 620 gallons of buttermilk from Prairie Farms, 7,200 pounds of flour from Kroger, 700 pounds of shortening from the Fair Commission, and 90 cases of syrup from Blackburn Syrup to top it all off.
“We combine all the ingredients together, and mix it with a lot of love,” says Doris Welch, Biscuit Booth employee and volunteer coordinator.
This tradition truly is a labor of love. Roughly 25 employees and volunteers keep 10 large pans, that each hold 54 biscuits, baking at all times. The booth’s two large ovens produce a constant flood of fluffy biscuits. The booth also relies on support from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and the Mississippi Fair Commission to keep the biscuits flowing to the eager crowds.
Despite the time and effort it takes to keep the booth running, the decision to hand out free biscuits was an easy one.
“Nothing’s free anymore, and people look forward to it,” Welch says. “It gets expensive to do things with the whole family, but this is a free family tradition, and people look forward to bringing their children.”
As the Biscuit Booth continues to grow and thrive, future generations will be able to bring their children to experience the same simple joy they did.
A visit to the Mississippi State Fair wouldn’t be complete without indulging in a warm, Southern-style biscuit oozing with syrup.
“There’s just nothing better,” Orr says.