The only time South Mississippi Fair patrons should be “Flirting With Disaster” is when Molly Hatchet is on stage.

Safety managers from Wade Shows were setting up all the rides starting Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s opening of the 99th annual fair when the weather is expected to be perfect with sunny days and cool, crisp nights. 

There are several new rides or rides that haven’t been at the fair in recent years, Pam Holifield said.

There will be bumper boats and a roller coaster, and the Alpine Bobs will be back along with the Quasar, she said.

There will be displays and demonstrations from local businesses and school FFA clubs in the ag building, which is under renovation.

Also new to the South Mississippi Fair will be the World of Wonders, which started as a “freak show” with Ringling Brothers and other major circuses 70 years ago. These days, it has a more politically correct name with sideshows featuring a sword-swallower, a fire eater and a strong woman who bends horseshoes.

“It’s the same feel as those old shows,” said owner Tommer Breen, 37, of Little Falls, N.J., who started as a sword swallower 14 years ago. “It’s family friendly.”

Performers with the World of Wonders have done their shows at Madison Square Garden, but Breen said he likes going to state fairs and smaller venues.

“That’s why I ran away and joined the circus — so I could see places like this,” he said. “I became the owner and want to keep it going another 70 years,”

Another new act that will have an old-time feel is the human cannonball, but with a new twist — the “barrel” he will be in is transparent, Holifield said. 

Old favorites like the petting zoo, cattle and horse barns, pig races and Grandpa Cratchet will also be there.

Molly Hatchet will be on stage Thursday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. at the Magnolia Center as the headliner, but other popular acts such as country singer William Michael Morgan of Vicksburg (Tuesday at 8 at the Magnolia Center) and Davis County (Oct. 20) at 6 will be featured.

For more information, including times and ticket prices, visit somissfair.com.

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