The sounds of traditional Choctaw dancing could be heard on the first day of the 56th Annual Choctaw Indian Fair, a celebration of tradition that runs as deep as the Choctaw culture itself.
The history of the dance is passed down from grandparents to parents to grandchildren. The chants and dances are as much a celebration of Choctaw heritage as a way of passing culture to the next generation. The fair is much the same.
"The fair time is where we meet family and friends that move away," said Jane Ben of Choctaw Cultural Affairs. "And I guess it's sort of like a big get together for us. Everybody comes home."
All seven Mississippi Choctaw communities come to be a part of the Choctaw Indian Fair. Exhibits of beading, basket weaving, quilting and pottery show examples of traditional Choctaw heritage.
The Choctaw Indian princess is crowned as part of a living tradition, to travel and represent the Choctaw people.
The fair has grown and expanded over the years, but to many the theme is still the same.
"One aspect that always remains the same is our culture. To be able to come together every year to commemorate that, to bring families home that live far away, that's a tradition that's irreplaceable," said Natasha Phillips, representing the Choctaw Indian Princess Pageant. "(It's) one we look forward to celebrating together as a tribe."
The Choctaw Indian Fair continues through July 16. Prices for daily tickets are $10 for an adult and $5 for a student. A season ticket costs $15 for an adult and $10 for a student.
The Choctaw Indian Fair encourages everyone to come out for some family fun where they say 'there is something for everyone.'
For a schedule of events and history of the Choctaw Indian Fair, visit www.choctawindianfair.com.